Community Legal Services recently created a frequently asked questions flier regarding the loss of General Assistance for single people without children. The big question is why is this happening? The answer: the Governor and elected officials in Harrisburg say that General Assistance needed to be ended to balance the state’s budget. The GA program cost $150million out of the state’s $27.65 billion budget — about half of 1%.
You have probably heard rumor or saw news articles about the cut to General Assistance. For many people who are homeless or struggling financially, the $205 they receive a month helps to pay for basic items and medications. The targeted people are those who have no children, aren’t pregnant and who aren’t blind – particularly men. On August 1, this plan will go into affect. The only recourse they have is to file an appeal if the recipient is pregnant, caring for a child or blind. It does not make a difference if you are disabled and can’t work.
It was just a few months ago that the farm bill was introduced. This is the bill that reduces SNAP benefits. The high unemployment rate has added to the amount of people receiving assistance and that has increased SNAP spending. To reduce this high expense, it has been proposed that the benefits be reduced. The average household using food stamps has a monthly income of $731 and receives $287 in SNAP benefits, the budget office said. Three-fourths of the households include a child, a disabled person or someone older than 60. $731 isn’t much to get by on in Philadelphia!
The Cupboard has seen an increase in our guests due to these recent measures. People have no funds and they are doing what they need to in order to survive. More people are seeking food from food banks and cupboards instead of spending their meager allowance on food items. We can’t provide people with enough to sustain them for long, but it’s a start. Our Cupboard is serving 70 people on a weekly basis – that is approximately 350 cans of food. At this rate we won’t be able to keep up with the need in our community.
There are a few things that you can do to get involved with this issue:
write/call your representatives in Harrisburg and request General Assistance not be cut. The difference it will make in the state budget- about .5% -is so small that it won’t be helping as much as it sounds like it will.
write/call your representatives about the farm- bill. There is still time to influence our representatives to not support reducing this service.
donate canned food items and clothes to your local food bank or cupboard