A voucher system to ensure that welfare payments are used for housing and other necessities won overwhelming approval by county supervisors.
The Milwaukee County program would require direct payment of housing and utility bills through vouchers, electronic fund transfers or third parties for recipients of Aid to Families with Dependent Children.The Board of Supervisors voted 22-2 Thursday to seek state and federal approval required for the plan to take effect. An amendment also approved Thursday calls for providing recipients with an unspecified small amount of discretionary cash.
"What we're concerned about in Milwaukee is that the money is used for what it's intended, which is shelter, gas and electricity," said Supervisor Robert L. Jackson Jr.
Supervisor Elizabeth Coggs-Jones voted against the proposal.
"I haven't supported cashless welfare vouchers because I believe it's punitive," she said. "Everyone on AFDC is not mismanaging AFDC money."
The board heard evidence that mismanagement of welfare funds has clogged Milwaukee courts. County Circuit Court Judge Lee Wells said in a letter to the board that 85 percent of the eviction cases he hears involve tenants receiving welfare.
Milwaukee County currently distributes $6.4 million per month in food stamps and $16.6 million in AFDC benefits, according the Department of Social Services.