Middle Class Turns to Charity, U Study Says

A recent study found an increasing number of the middle income class in Utah is turning to charitable organizations for assistance.

The study, issued by the University of Utah’s Center for Public Policy and Administration, suggested the phenomenon is a result of recent welfare-reform legislation, which decreased the time limit of government aid.

The charity recipients in the study were not necessarily unemployed and have ?complex and desperate? situations. Some are working multiple low wage jobs. The majority have children. Thirty percent are not receiving government assistance even though some were eligible.

The finding of the report, titled “The Impact of Welfare Reform on Charitable Organizations: The Capacity of the Charitable Welfare Sector in Utah,” surprised its author, Laurie DiPadova, a fellow at the CPPA. She initially thought the report would focus on the lower income class.

?It shows that many working Americans are in the same boat as the people we stigmatize as poor,? said DiPadova. ?I hope it can bring us together.?

The Utah State Department of Workforce Services funded the study to determine the impact of welfare reform in 1996, or the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act.

The study may have a potential effect in refining welfare reform. It highlighted deficiencies and made several recommendations.

?The welfare reform we have is not keyed to the unemployment rate,? DiPadova said. ?That?s a flaw. [The reconciliation act] did not mandate we track what happens to people who went on welfare. No one has any idea what happens to them. Majority of them don?t end up with well paying jobs.?

The paper may also influence how charitable organizations distribute benefits. Charities, especially those with religious affiliations, rarely check on the legitimacy of the those requesting assistance, according to the study, and many are turning to charities before applying for government assistance.

The paper also discovered an increasing impact on immigrants, senior citizens and single mothers, but DiPadova believes the reconciliation act has had the biggest impact on children.

?The reform punishes the children,? DiPadova said. ?There?s an increased risk level depending on the age.?

?There?s a lot of interest in middle-class welfare [now],? said DiPadova. ?I hope that the report won?t detract our concern from the destitution the marginal class experiences.?

[email protected]