Nonprofit Partners Work to Reinstate PA General Assistance

  • Photo by Sarah Anne Hughes

The Pennsylvania State Supreme Court recently heard arguments regarding the removal of  a cash assistance program, known as General Assistance. The hearing was a result of an appeal filed by two of our nonprofit partners, Community Legal Services (CLS) and Disability Rights Pennsylvania (DRP).

The program was eliminated in August following a vote by the General Assembly during the summer budget process. General Assistance was responsible for providing nearly 200 dollars a month to 12,000 Pennsylvania residents. These included residents with disabilities, residents facing addiction, and residents in states of extreme poverty. For an individual to qualify for the program they must have less than 250 dollars in countable assets. 

CLS and DRP filed a lawsuit against the removal of the program, stating that it violated the state constitution. Initially the lawsuit was denied by the Commonwealth Court, based on the court’s belief that the lawsuit did not prove “irreparable harm.” One critique of the program is the lack of accountability and restrictions on the money, but our nonprofit partners appealed the decision and argue that without this financial support the quality of life for participants will greatly decrease. Former recipients have reported spending it on food, hygiene products and transportation. 

The main case is continuing at the Commonwealth Court awaiting a ruling on the injunction from the Supreme Court. 

Learn more about the efforts of our nonprofit partners to restore the General Assistance program in the Pennsylvania Capital-Star.