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The Truth About Race and Welfare, Food Stamp, and Section 8 Usage

This article deserves a far wider audience than it has received since being published. [Race, Welfare, and Media Lies, October 17, 2019]:

When you talk to leftists about race, it doesn’t take long for them to bring up some variation of “most people on welfare are white.” As we’ll see, this is simply not true. And you don’t even have to delve into the grade-school concept of per capita welfare rates to explain this. In absolute terms, whites are a minority of users. But this doesn’t stop lefties from making claims like this:

  • Rick Newman, a senior columnist for Yahoo Finance wrote in an August 19, 2019 column that, “whites are the largest group of welfare recipients in the United States, while immigrants are far more entrepreneurial than native-born Americans.” The article offers no link to a source.
  • A Newsweekarticle from January 12, 2018 announces: “In fact, whites are the biggest beneficiaries when it comes to government safety-net programs like the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, commonly referred to as welfare.” Again, no source.
  • A June 8, 2018 “Code Switch” segment on NPR featured Rachel Wetts, a doctoral candidate in sociology at the University of California, Berkeley, who chirped, “Even though members of all racial and ethnic groups are using these programs, white Americans tend to perceive them as mostly benefiting African-Americans. So, there’s a misperception of who the primary beneficiaries are of these programs.” This article cites figures for only one program, Medicaid, which is the handout that whites collect at the highest rate – though whites are still less than 50 percent of all recipients.
  • A Huffington Post piece from February 2018 was called, “Americans Are Mistaken About Who Gets Welfare.” It quotes Elizabeth Lower-Basch, a senior analyst with the Center for Law and Social Policy, who claims that “across the programs people overestimate the share of recipients who are black. It’s not surprising because we all know people’s images of public benefits is driven by stereotype.” This article is about who the public thinks is on welfare. It never considers usage rates nor the fact that there are about seven times more whites than blacks in the US.
  • In a February 16, 2017 article, Tracy Jan of the Washington Post claimed, “The biggest beneficiaries of the government safety net: working class whites.”

There are many other examples of either slanted reporting or just plain ignorance, and it’s not just leftists who fall for this stuff. I’ve heard Sean Hannity and Cal Thomas parrot nonsense. National Reviewflubbed on race and welfare in 2012.

The Department of Health and Human Services doesn’t hide figures on welfare, but the image on the HHS home page, labelled “administration for children and families” shows an unambiguously white family — perhaps for a reason. The urge to ignore the facts appears to be overwhelming. Here are the most recent numbers, which I have compared to 2018 population figures from the U.S. Census.


Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is what most people think of when they say “welfare.” It pays cash directly to users. The amount varies by state. In 2018 (the most recent data available), there were over 2.27 million recipients, who got nearly $17 billion. Here’s the racial breakdown (Table 10):

Race % of Recipients% of Population
White 27.2%60.4%
Hispanic37.8% 18.3%
Asian 1.9%5.9%
American Indian1.5%1.3%

Whites are clearly an absolute minority of recipients: just 27.2 percent of the total. There are more blacks and Hispanics on welfare than whites. On a per capita basis, blacks are 4.8 times more likely than whites to get TANF, and Hispanics are 4.7 times more likely. Asians are only two-thirds as likely.

Interestingly, over 85 percent of TANF recipients are single or divorced, and only 13 percent are married. Conservatives have long argued that marriage reduces poverty.

Food stamps

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is better known as food stamps. In 2017, a staggering 42.1 million people got free food at a cost of $68 billion dollars. The racial breakdown (page 22):

Race% of Recipients% of Population
American Indian1.4%1.3%
Unknown/Didn’t Say16.8%NA

Again, whites are an absolute minority of food stamp users. The 16.8 percent of “race unknown or didn’t say” is high, but they are unlikely to be white. An even bigger story is that 8.2 percent of recipients are children of non-citizens. A further 8.6 percent are refugees or non-citizens. We import food-stamp users.


Medicaid is health insurance for poor people. An incredible 74 million people were on it in 2017 (up from 46 million in 2001). It is paid for by a combination of state and federal funds, and on average it accounts for a crushing 22 percent of state budgets. In 2018, Medicaid cost over $592 billion, and the racial breakdown for users in 2017 was as follows:

Race% of Recipients% of Population
American Indian1%0.8%

Again, whites are an absolute minority, though their percentage of recipients for this expensive program is relatively high.

Section 8 and other public housing

In 2017, there were nearly 5 million households in the US getting housing assistance through the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Most of them got Section 8 vouchers or lived in public housing. Blacks are massively over-represented.

Over 1 million people live in public housing. The racial breakdown is as follows:

Race% of Recipients% of Population
American Indian1%0.8%

The “stereotype” of blacks in public housing is not false. There are more blacks than people of any other race in the projects, and on a per capita basis, they are 6.7 times more likely to be in them than whites.

This data is incredible, and should be the basis for any realistic conversation about public/social policy in America, but instead anyone who dared cite it would be instantly called “racist.”

That so few dare compile this easily accessible data is, of course, a reminder of the terror we all live under in the “free” country of the United States of America, where only a select few dare exercise their 1st Amendment rights…

Your tax dollars go to funding our own demographic dispossession.