Drug Testing and Crime-Related Restrictions in TANF, SNAP, and Housing Assistance [July 30, 2013] [open pdf - 440KB]
"The three programs examined in this report--the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly Food Stamps), and federal housing assistance programs (public housing and Section 8 tenant and project-based assistance)--are similar, in that they are administered at the state or local level. They are different in the forms of assistance they provide. TANF provides cash assistance and other supports to low-income parents and their children, with a specific focus on promoting work. SNAP provides food assistance to a broader set of poor households including families with children, elderly households, and persons with disabilities. The housing assistance programs offer subsidized rental housing to all types of poor families, like SNAP. All three programs feature some form of drug- and other crime-related restrictions and all three leave discretion in applying those restrictions to state and local administrators. Both TANF and SNAP are subject to the statutory 'drug felon ban,' which bars states from providing assistance to persons convicted of a drug-related felony, but also gives states the ability to opt-out of or modify the ban, which most states have done. Housing assistance programs are not subject to the drug felon ban, but they are subject to a set of policies that allows local program administrators to deny or terminate assistance to persons involved in drug-related or other criminal activity. Housing law also includes mandatory restrictions related to specific crimes, including sex offenses and methamphetamine production. All three programs also have specific restrictions related to fugitive felons."
CRS Report for Congress, R42394