We aim to protect and improve the public benefits safety net which helps struggling New Mexican families meet their basic human needs and ultimately escape from poverty.
1 in 5 New Mexicans live in poverty. That’s over 450,000 people, including nearly 150,000 children. We also have the hungriest children in the nation: 1 in 3 kids don’t know from where their next meal will come.
For these families, the public benefits programs form a critical safety net. These programs include Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and General Assistance. They help families to put food on their tables, access medical care, or keep a roof over their heads. Moreover, they have proven to be the best resource to help families escape poverty in the long term.
Since 1996, the Center has provided statewide systemic advocacy to protect and improve access to the main public benefits programs. We identify and address problems that make it difficult for eligible people to enroll in and renew their assistance. We look for barriers that impede access to benefits for underserved populations such as racial and ethnic minorities, immigrant families, and people living in rural areas of the state. Center staff often work directly with state program administrators to implement improvements in policies and practices. We also identify federal opportunities to expand eligibility and benefits, and support the state to take full advantage of these in ways that maximize New Mexico’s use of federal funds. Additionally, we educate policy makers and the public about the impact that the benefits programs have on low-income individuals, the state’s economy, and our healthcare system. We also regularly provide education, information, and training to ensure that clients and their advocates know about their eligibility for the programs and how to apply.
To learn how to apply for public benefits, please visit our page How to Apply.
The Center uses legal advocacy to resolve barriers that prevent eligible New Mexicans from accessing public benefits.
Child care assistance helps families with very low‐incomes provide quality care for their children while they work or attend school.
The Center works to improve administration of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program so that hungry New Mexicans can find help when they need it most.
For the poorest families in our community, cash assistance programs help with the basic necessities like rent, utilities, and clothing costs.
Applying for public benefits such as Medicaid, food assistance, or cash assistance is often a confusing process for all clients. For immigrants, the system is even more complicated.
The Center is widely considered to be a ‘go-to’ source of information and technical assistance for New Mexico’s advocacy community on issues around public benefits.
Please visit our project pages for more resources related to specific programs.