This will be the last month of state-issued checks for more than 60,000 needy and disabled residents who’ve been beneficiaries of General Assistance cash grants from the Department of Public Welfare.
The roughly $150-million dollar program has been on the chopping block since Governor Tom Corbett’s initial budget plan was unveiled in February. Late in the budget process a deal was reached to allow for one additional month of checks to be issued, so as to ease the transition, but the program will soon be eliminated.
“Some of them will end up on the streets, some of them will end up in emergency rooms, some of them will end up in jail,” says Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania Executive Director Liz Hersh, who fears many of these vulnerable citizens will be left with nothing.
Senate Minority Appropriations Chair Vincent Hughes (D-Phila.) has a district office right around the corner from a welfare office. “Everyone’s in a panic,” he says of the knowledge that their lifeline is being cut.
But Governor Tom Corbett says his administration is working to connect people losing these state-funded cash benefits to other programs. “From discussions with staff, we believe that some people probably are not exercising access to some areas that they might have access to,” Corbett explained to reporters during recent budget negotiations.