Phila Inquirer editorial: “Pa. cuts to needy make no sense”

Pa. cuts to needy make no sense
Sunday, July 1, 2012

EXCERPT:

When it comes to setting priorities, Gov. Corbett and lawmakers in Harrisburg have put the most needy in the state at the bottom of the list….

The inhumane cuts target the poor and will likely exacerbate conditions that will end up costing the state even more money to correct in the long run. The cash-assistance program has been around since the Great Depression….

When you consider that it costs about $1,000 a month to house someone in a city homeless shelter — about five times the cost of general assistance — and most shelters are at capacity, the cuts make no sense. It’s a shame that the poor are such easy targets.

Click here to read the complete editorial.

 

Elimination of General Assistance Delayed Until August 1

The PA Cares for All Coalition to Save General Assistance today announced that the elimination of the General Assistance program has been delayed one month, until August 1.  Until today, all signs had pointed to its elimination on July 1, the first day of the new fiscal year.  House Bill 1261, the Welfare Code bill that will be enacted over the weekend to implement the state’s 2012-13 budget, was amended today to eliminate the General Assistance program effective August 1.

“On behalf of the hundreds of General Assistance recipients we represent every year, we are heartbroken at the loss of this vital safety net.  Nonetheless, we are relieved that individuals who rely on GA for their entire source of income will have advance notice of its elimination,” said Louise Hayes, a staff attorney at Community Legal Services.

“In the midst of our sorrow at the elimination of GA, we are relieved that the community organizations and faith-based groups to whom former GA recipients will turn for help will have some time to prepare for this tragedy,” added Liz Hersh, Executive Director of the Housing Alliance.

General Assistance is a safety net program of last resort for over 68,000 Pennsylvanians who are unable to work, providing them access to critical medical care and a small cash grant ($205 a month in most counties) with rigid restrictions.

Community social services agencies & Religious Organizations Urge Delay in Eliminating General Assistance

The Mental Health Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania and 19 other social services providers and religious organizations from across Pennsylvania sent a letter to the Governor earlier this week requesting advance notice before Pennsylvania eliminated General Assistance.

The organizations continue to oppose the elimination of General Assistance, a critical last resort program that provides a temporary bridge to stability for people with disabilities, people fleeing from domestic violence, people participating in drug and alcohol treatment programs that preclude employment, and children living with non-relative caretakers.  But if General Assistance is eliminated, the organizations urge the Commonwealth to provide recipients with advance warning.

The text of the letter is below.  The full letter can be read by clicking here. Read more

Tribune Review: “Some could lose temporary cash benefit to state budget cuts”

Some could lose temporary cash benefit to state budget cuts
Mary Ann Thomas

Saturday, June 23, 2012

EXCERPT:

“Two-hundred-dollars a month doesn’t sound like a lot, but it is when it’s something that you won’t have,” said Bob Boehn, 47, of Kenneth Avenue in Arnold.

Boehn’s blindness was caused by complications of eye cancer.

The cut in his cash assistance will make it difficult for him to pay for transportation, Boehn said.

Since he is blind, access to public transportation already is difficult and limited, especially just getting out the door to reach public buses.

“I can’t walk out of here,” Boehn said. “I’m stranded here,” he said of living in a second-floor apartment. “I got nothing.”

He needs a ride, which costs money, just to reach public transportation to go to a job or retraining.

“It’s going to kill me,” Boehn said. “It’s hard when they take programs away. You’re screwed.”

He continues to look for work, explore retraining and returning to a public high-rise apartment building where access to services is easier.

To read full story, click here.

Phila Inquirer Op-Ed: “Gov. Corbett’s easy attack on Pennsylvania’s weakest”

Gov. Corbett’s easy attack on Pennsylvania’s weakest
Jake Blumgart
June 25, 2012

EXCERPT:

It’s hard to imagine a less politically connected group than the low-income people helped by general assistance. In Pennsylvania, they include the temporarily disabled, those caring for elderly or disabled relatives, domestic violence victims, and recovering addicts (the last two subject to a nine-month lifetime limit).

To read full article, click here.

Dept of Public Welfare issues memo eliminating General Assistance

Yesterday, the Department of Public Welfare issued an Operations Memo terminating General Assistance.

According to the memo, “GA Cash Assistance program shall cease July 1, 2012.”

It appears from this memo that no advance notice will be sent to recipients.  Almost 70,000 Pennsylvanians will learn that their sole source of income has ended when it simply stops showing up in 10 days, and they can’t pay their rent.

According to the memo, those affected include:

  • 18-20 years old and in secondary school expected to graduate by age 21
  • Children under the age of 21 not eligible for TANF
  • In a 2-parent household with children under 13 or 13 and older and disabled
  • Temporarily or permanently disabled
  • Non-parental caretakers of children under 13 or 13 and older and disabled
  • Undergoing drug and alcohol treatment that precludes employment
  • A pregnant woman not eligible for TANF
  • A victim of domestic violence

Why is our Governor and legislators doing this to needy Pennsylvanians?  According to the Memo, “Pennsylvania is facing a budget shortfall for FY 2011-12 and eliminating the GA cash program will reduce state spending and help balance the budget.”

To read the full memo, please click here.

Better Choices Coalition to Hold Protest in Malvern on Thursday, June 14

Bought anything from

QVC or Giant lately?

When you pay sales tax at Giant, QVC, and other Pennsylvania retailers, the companies take advantage of a tax loophole that lets them pocket a portion of that sales tax revenue.  The Governor has proposed closing that loophole for large retailers.  But they are fighting back.

The state is cutting our children’s classrooms, supports for struggling Pennsylvanian families, and funding for infrastructure that keeps us economically competitive.  Join us to ask Giant and QVC to pay their fair share.

Corporate Tax Loophole Action

Thursday, June 14th

2 pm

Lincoln Court Shopping Center

215 Lancaster Avenue,

Malvern, PA19355

(corner of Route 30 & Malin Road)

 

Please RSVP to Kate at (215) 563-5848 x16 or atkins@pennbpc.org

Shippensburg Univ Professor: Legislators need courage to do the right thing at budget time 

Legislators need courage to do the right thing at budget time
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Steven Burg, professor of history at Shippensburg University.

Soon our elected officials are going to vote for a state budget for the next fiscal year. That vote directly affects us all. We need to watch and see whether our legislators pass a budget that truly serves the needs of the commonwealth’s citizens and communities.

Some of the key issues to be watched: ….

Additionally, the elimination of General Assistance will remove the safety net of last resort that helps sick or disabled adults without minor children, domestic violence survivors and adults caring for sick or disabled relatives. If the Legislature chooses to cut General Assistance, the financial savings will scarcely make up for the cost of the resulting human suffering in our community.

Click here to read complete op-ed

Harrisburg United Way President: Eliminating General Assistance “would be devastating”

Midstaters show concern over human service cuts
Joseph Capita, President of United Way of the Capital Region

Harrisburg Patriot-News Op-Ed

Sat, June 9, 2012

As are many in the commonwealth, United Way of the Capital Region was concerned and dismayed when details of the Corbett administration’s proposed state budget were released.

It called for combining seven separate human service funding streams into one and cutting the total allocation by 20 percent as well as discontinuing the General Assistance program. Cuts of this magnitude would be devastating to the clients of many agencies that already are in a dire situation.

Click here to continue reading.

Rally speakers protest elimination of General Assistance

Elizabeth Hersh from the Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania and Michael Froehlich from Community Legal Services speak to a rally on Tuesday, June 5, 2012 to protest the elimination of General Assistance and the cuts to human services programs.  The rally was sponsored by the Pennsylvania Community Providers Association and the Mental Health Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania.