HB 33, the bill that would eliminate General Assistance, has passed in both the PA House and PA Senate. On Friday, June 28, it was signed into law by Governor Wolf as part of the budget process. It is anticipated that General Assistance will be eliminated as of August 1, 2019.
Advocates believe the program, only recently renewed, provides important help to Pennsylvania's poorest citizens.
- General Assistance provides a small amount of cash support - about $200 per month - to a small, targeted population of Pennsylvanians in need of immediate help.
- This support goes only to specific populations who need immediate and urgent assistance, like people with disabilities who cannot work and may otherwise become homeless, people facing domestic violence, people who are being treated for drug or alcohol use disorder, and children who are being cared for by friends or neighbors.
- General Assistance is used to help people meet basic needs, like paying rent, buying a winter coat, fleeing an abusive situation at home, or covering co-pays that allow them to get medical treatment.
- General Assistance typically functions as a loan. Many who qualify are ultimately approved for Social Security Disability; when this happens, the state is paid back for GA payments.
- General Assistance makes financial sense. These small cash payments can keep people out of shelters, hospitals, and foster care by meeting their most urgent needs. GA benefits are spent locally, benefitting communities across PA. Because the state is often reimbursed for these payments, it costs relatively little.
More information about the General Assistance program to discuss with legislators can be found here.