FYI on the FPL and how it relates to EA

Sorry for the alphabet soup title.

Using Words : For Your Information on the Federal Poverty Level and how it relates to Emergency Assistance

 DEFINITION of ‘Federal Poverty Level – FPL’

The set minimum amount of gross income that a family needs for food, clothing, transportation, shelter and other necessities. In the United States, this level is determined by the Department of Health and Human Services. FPL varies according to family size. The number is adjusted for inflation and reported annually in the form of poverty guidelines. Public assistance programs, such as Medicaid in the U.S., define eligibility income limits as some percentage of FPL.

An explanation: Each year, the federal Department of Health and Human Services updates the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) based on the rate of inflation.  The FPL is used to determine eligibility for a variety of programs, including for Emergency Assistance (EA), or the state’s family shelter system.  To be eligible for emergency shelter, families must earn less than 115% of the FPL. A notice was posted on the Department of Housing and Community Development’s Website, and sent to DHCD field staff, on February 3, 2015 with the updated EA eligibility income guidelines based on the 2015 FPL. Here is the full notice and below is the chart with the current monthly income eligibility standards based on family size:


Based on those numbers and using my calculator and multiplying by 12, the income eligibility guidelines based on annual income  are as follows:

1 person: $13,536

2 people: $18,324

3 people: $23,100

4 people: $27,888

5 people: $32,676

6 people: $37,452

7 people: $42,240

8 people: $47,028

Interesting facts on the FPL: The poverty thresholds were originally developed in 1963-1964 by Mollie Orshansky of the Social Security Administration.  Orshansky took the dollar costs of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s economy food plan for families of three or more persons and multiplied the costs by a factor of three.  For more information and frequently asked questions, visit the Dept of Health and Human Services website

Interesting Opinions and Data: There is considerable criticism and discussion about the FPL for being an outdated tool, but one which has tremendous impact on people’s lives as it determines who can and cannot get access to resources. Check out the hyperlinks links to learn more and tell us what you think. How should poverty be measured? What should determine access to shelter and other programs?

Despite the concerns with FPL, it is what draws line in the eligibility sand for now, so please be aware and share. But also remember, income eligibility is only one factor in determining shelter eligibility. For more information about the other determinants, click here for the regulations and/or here for a guide designed for families.



One thought on “FYI on the FPL and how it relates to EA

  1. One more thing…Now known as the Thrifty Food Plan, “In 1961, USDA developed the Economy Food Plan for short-term or emergency use” Updated in 1975 ” the TFP had to maintain the same minimal cost as the Economy Food Plan. In other words, the assignment was to fit the new square peg into the same size round hole.” and “The TFP is generally not used…for any purpose other than setting SNAP allotments. Government agencies … generally use one of the three higher cost
    food plans”

    Liked by 1 person

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