Harrisburg, Pa. − August 1, 2019 − Today, Democratic members from the Pennsylvania House and Senate are asking Governor Tom Wolf to declare a state of emergency to address the needs created by the elimination of the state’s General Assistance program.
General Assistance was terminated, effective August 1st and there are no state resources lined up to fill the gaps that this will leave. Eleven thousand Pennsylvanians, representing every county in this state, will no longer receive roughly $200 per month that they had been using to cover the costs of utilities, transportation, health care, and toiletries, as they wait for more permanent assistance programs or work toward self-sufficiency.
In their letter to Governor Wolf, elected officials wrote:
The value of the GA program was the flexibility it offered to people that were desperately in need of basic resources. Housing, healthcare co-payments, transportation access, toiletries, and much more could be attained though the cash assistance. But it also makes putting the puzzle back together for how to help the individuals even more difficult. Each of these services is provided by a different agency or level of government. The opportunity provided by an emergency declaration is an organized response for data collection, data sharing, program coordination, and resource direction that does not exist in the daily operation of state government. Data sharing alone has been a major hurdle for reaching out and coordinating a response.
Much more will need to be done to assist soon-to-be former GA recipients in getting the assistance they need to keep their lives in order. We have heard story after story about how the GA program has lifted people out of poverty and turned their lives around. It has kept people in homes, provided life saving healthcare, or transportation to get people access to care. We need to find a way to continue to help these people and an emergency declaration will help get the right people to the table for coordinating the response. The opioid emergency declaration has proven your success in this approach and can be replicated here.