Tim Keefe found himself homeless in his tent in rural Maine. It was below freezing. He hadn’t had food in two days. “I’ve worked since I was 11. I’ve paid taxes my whole life. Now, they are denying me food stamps? I don’t understand this,” he said.
Keefe is a veteran, father, and widower in his 50s. He’s been homeless since 2015. After he served in the Navy for two years, Keefe found that he had little access to support when he reentered society. Even so, he was determined to find a job. He had a wife and two daughters to take care of.
Some assume that because these folks aren’t elderly, disabled, or raising children, they don’t need serious help. But Meredith Cook, who works at Preble Street, a Maine nonprofit, debunked these claims with the reality of the situation: Living on $12,490 a year — which is the federal poverty level for individual households — is very little money. Add in the labyrinth of government bureaucracy and cuts in domestic spending, and even more people are falling through the cracks. Waiver restrictions completely ignore surrounding circumstances that make able-bodied adults unable to find 20 hours of employment, work training, or community service a week.