Jan 25, 2020
Our social welfare programs were created as a safety net to support individuals and families that are either temporarily in need or are confronted with permanent disabilities. Our social welfare programs were NOT created as a career path or to provide permanent support for able bodied adults who choose to study rather than work.
The participation rate in various welfare programs in Lakewood is ridiculously high and there are reasons for that, not the least of which is the very generous income levels allowed for participation and the existence of an underground economy in Lakewood. Yes, it’s a thing. Businesses run out of basements, payroll being split between legitimate and “off the books” are just two examples.
First and foremost, Lakewood is a “Kollel Community”. The unique philosophy of the kollel, in which members are subsisting entirely on support from others, is part of an overall philosophy that God desires that the children of Israel primarily occupy themselves in this world with the study of His Torah, and gave certain Jews more of a propensity to work with the intention that they should support the ‘learners’. In short, professional learners do not earn income, they study. Read more here: https://www.torchweb.org/torah_detail…
Second and of no less significance is that Lakewood offers not one, not two, not three but FOUR in town referral services as gateways to benefit programs.
With the average family size of 6.1 in Lakewood, qualifying for food stamps is the easiest of all. The maximum allowable income to qualify is $5,202/month or $62,424/year. According to U.S. Census estimates, the median family income in 2018 was just $45,321, partially explaining why nearly 60% of all children rely on public assistance for their meals.
FREE AND REDUCED LUNCH
The National School Breakfast and Lunch Program follows identical income guidelines to food stamps and applies to both public and private school students. For the 2019-2020 school year, this program will cost taxpayers $33,000,000 in Lakewood. Nearly 100% of all students in Lakewood participate.
LOW INCOME ENERGY ASSISTANCE PROGRAM
The LIEAP income guidelines are slightly higher. For a family of 6 in Lakewood, to qualify for assistance the family income may not exceed $69,180/year. It is estimated that 44% of all households in Lakewood participate.
At the present time, the Lakewood Housing Authority (LHA) has 833 Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers (HCV). The breakdown of the program is as follows; sixty-eight (68) vouchers for disabled families, one hundred and twenty (120) Family Unification Program vouchers, who are referred to the LHA from the State of New Jersey Department of Children and Families Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCPP), ten (10) vouchers for the Family Unification Program for Youths Aging Out of Foster Care (FUPY), also reffered to LHA from DCPP, and the remainder from a waiting list. The current waiting list in Lakewood is 1,200 families. The income guidelines for a family of 6 are $35,650 and $59,350.