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.

June 25, 2012

Dear Governor Corbett:

We are writing you today with a critical request.  We understand that your administration has proposed eliminating General Assistance, the last resort program for 70,000 Pennsylvanians with disabilities.  Last Thursday, the Department of Public Welfare released a draft operations memorandum to stop General Assistance effective July 1 with no advance notice or warning.  See attachedMost people who receive General Assistance will learn that their General Assistance has ended when they go to withdraw their money to pay their rent in July.  We urge you to reconsider this action and provide at least 60 days notice to these individuals that their sole source of income will be stopped.

The abrupt termination of General Assistance without notice will cause extreme chaos and confusion.  Across Pennsylvania, 69,115 people will lose their sole source of income overnight.  Our shelter system and network of human services providers are simply not equipped to deal with this sudden and enormous demand for their services.

Individuals receiving General Assistance have already been found to be disabled by their doctors and temporarily unable to work.  It will be very difficult for these individuals to find jobs immediately, especially with 475,000 other Pennsylvanians currently out of work.

The Commonwealth previously restricted eligibility for General Assistance in 1982, 1994, and 1995.  Eligibility was restricted in much less drastic ways and to far fewer people than contemplated here.  Yet in each case, the Department gave recipients at least 60 days advance notice of the impeding changes to their benefits so that they could have fair warning and begin to prepare their next steps.

If you have any questions, please contact Debbie Plotnick at the Mental Health Association at 267-978-0639.  Thank you very much.

Sincerely yours,


Debbie Plotnick, Director of Advocacy

Mental Health Association ofSoutheastern Pennsylvania


Heather Arnet, Chief Executive Officer

Women and Girls Foundation


Deb Beck, President

Drug and Alcohol Service Providers Organization ofPennsylvania


Dennis Brunn

Unitarian UniversalistPennsylvaniaLegal Advocacy Network


Kelly Davis, Executive Director

Lutheran Settlement House


Kathleen Daugherty, Coordinator

Coalition for Low Income Pennsylvanians


Peg Dierkers, Executive Director

PennsylvaniaCoalition Against Domestic Violence


Stephen Drachler, Executive Director
United Methodist Advocacy inPennsylvania


Deborah Fidel, Executive Director

PittsburghArea Jewish Committee (PAJC)


Bob Fishman, Executive Director

Resources for Human Development


Susan Frietsche, Senior Staff Attorney

Women’s Law Project

Western PennsylvaniaOffice


Carol Goertzel, President / CEO

Pathways PA


Kathy Jellison, President

SEIU Local 668


Jeannine L. Lisitski, Executive Director

Women Against Abuse


La’Tasha Mayes, Executive Director

New VoicesPennsylvania: Women of Color for Reproductive Justice


Shirl Regan, Executive Director

Women’s Center & Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh


Polly Schaller, Executive Director



Letty D. Thall, Public Policy Director

Maternity Care Coalition


Kathy Wellbank, Director

Interim House, Inc.


Tim Wilson, Executive Director

The Philadelphia Alliance

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