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Mayor Gray Still Seeking Welfare Reform In D.C.

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Wakina Miller is one of the participants in a new pilot program that offers homeless people a semi-permanent place to live if they help renovate vacant houses.
Patrick Madden
Wakina Miller is one of the participants in a new pilot program that offers homeless people a semi-permanent place to live if they help renovate vacant houses.

Gray is a Democrat and a former director of D.C.'s Human Services Department. Since becoming mayor, he hasn't been shy about calling for time limits, or at least restrictions, on Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).

"Some people have been very cynical in the city and started calling it 'PANF', permanent assistance to needy families," Gray says. "That day is over with."

The city earlier this year passed a law reducing TANF payments for those who have been on assistance for more than 60 months. In his state of the District address this spring, Gray said public assistance should be "a hand-up, not a hand out."

Gray says his administration is working with several city agencies to create more job training opportunities for TANF recipients so they'll be able to get on payrolls and off welfare rolls.

"I think we are on our way to reduce those rolls not simply because people have exhausted their eligibility but because they will be moving on to something more constructive and productive," says Gray.

This week the mayor rolled out a pilot program for TANF recipients to learn how to work in construction and says he wants to develop similar programs in the future.

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