Wednesday, June 15, 2016

My Estimate: Deductions for Excess Shelter Costs Used When Calculating Income Increased Annual SNAP Benefits by $20.6 Billon/ 924% from 2000-2014.

I recently discovered and read a 2002 CBPP analysis, The Food Stamp Shelter DeductionHERE . 

The analysis estimated that in 2000 the excess shelter cost deduction from income used to determine SNAP eligibility and benefit levels provided $2.2 billion annually in benefits ($49 per month) to 3.8 million SNAP recipients with excessive shelter costs (shelter costs that are more than 50% of income). [The "benefit" is in the form of additional food stamps/SNAP that a family receives if their shelter cost exceed 50% of their adjusted income]. 

CBPP's analysis made clear why the additional SNAP benefit for those with excess shelter costs is important: 

"After Section 8 and public housing, the food stamp shelter deduction was the biggest source of federal resources devoted to providing assistance to low income households based on their housing needs. "

To update the 2000 CBPP analysis I found a 2014 SNAP data update HERE .  

Using the CBPP analysis as a guide I then plugged in 2014 counts of SNAP households using the excessive shelter deduction and the amount of their average excessive shelter deduction.  I then calculated the benefit using the CBPP assumption that deducting $100 in excessive shelter costs from income increases the SNAP amount ("the benefit")  by $30).  

The table below shows my calculations of the estimated nationwide benefits of the SNAP excessive shelter income deduction comparing 2014 to 2000. 


  • The number of SNAP households receiving the excessive shelter cost income deduction increased by 12.363 million, 326%.
  • The share of all SNAP households with the excessive shelter deduction increased from 52% in 2000 to 72% IN 2014.
  • The maximum excessive shelter cost deduction increased from $300 in 2000 to $506 in 2014.
  • The per household excessive shelter monthly income deduction for those receiving the deduction increased by $230/141% to $390. I speculate that this may have resulted from higher deduction limits, higher shares of elderly and disabled households whose excessive shelter income deductions are not limited, and increasing numbers of households paying more than 50% of their income for shelter because of declining incomes and/or increasing shelter costs.
  • The benefit amount per household for those receiving the excessive shelter cost income deduction increased by $69, from $49 to $118 per month, $1,415 per year. 
  • The total benefit amount (additional SNAP/food stamps because of the excess shelter deduction) Increased by $20.629 Billion/924%.
  • With SNAP case loads decreasing, it may be that 2014 was near the peak in help provided for households with excess shelter costs.

NEXT: A look at SNAP excessive shelter deductions and benefits comparison to changes in HUD rental assistance outlays for Section 8 and Public Housing from 2000-2014.

Originally created and posted on the Oregon Housing Blog

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