The federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, has been getting a lot of attention lately, with debate focused on more stringent rules around how states can determine who qualifies. Also called food stamps, SNAP tends to be the best known (and regularly debated) form of federal assistance for individuals and families in need. However, it’s not the only one. Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), more commonly called welfare, provides cash assistance, and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is available for disabled adults and children, as well as some people age 65 or older.
The following series of maps take a look at where we see fewer and greater amounts of households in need of these safety net programs. You can use the slider bar on each map to take a look at how counties compare and see small-area variation in each county. In each map, you can click on an area of interest to see more detailed data.
Focus on SNAP benefits
Previously, we took a look at participation and cost of SNAP benefits statewide (hint: participation goes up when the economy takes a nosedive). The map below uses American Community Survey data to show how participation plays out among ARC’s 10 core counties. As the map shows, Clayton County’s has the greatest percent of households — nearly a quarter — using SNAP benefits. The second-highest county is DeKalb, where 15 percent of households use the program. When it comes to looking at small areas, we see a different pattern play out, with Fulton County holding eight of the top-10 Census tracts receiving SNAP benefits, many of which are in Southwest Atlanta.
Cash public assistance
The map explorer below shows the percent of households using TANF benefits. While the shading on the map may make it seem like some areas have large amounts of residents using this form of assistance, in aggregate we actually see very few residents receiving TANF. Douglas County, for instance, has the most, and even here, it’s just 2.3 percent of households. At the tract level, we also see that relatively small percents of households using cash assistance, with Fulton County tract 86.01 taking the top spot with just 15.5 percent of residents receiving this assistance.
Supplemental Security Income
Supplemental Security Income sees slightly greater shares of households using it than TANF, but it remains just a very small amount. Clayton County takes the top spot, with 6.2 percent of households receiving this form of assistance. As always, we see more variation at the tract level, with Fulton County tract 70.01 seeing 21.3 percent of households receiving this form of assistance. All of the top-10 tracts receiving assistance are in Fulton County, and once again most of them are in South and Southwest Atlanta.
Bringing it all together
The map explorer below brings together all the forms of social assistance discussed above. Use the layer selector tool to turn different variables on and off, and use the slider tool to see direct comparisons of the spatial distribution of these benefits.