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New Welfare Regulations, Or Lack Thereof

A state program providing monthly cash grants to the poor has been shuttered for just more than a month, but welfare advocates are urging for its restoration.

The state's General Assistance program provided roughly 200 dollars a month to very low-income clients, some of whom were unemployed, sick, disabled, or were recovering addicts or domestic abuse victims.

Republican Representative Gene DiGirolamo of Bucks County says he’d like to see General Assistance restored, if only in part.

“I think some of the money that went for General Assistance really helped people out, as they’re coming out of these crisis situations, helping them pay their rent, helping them get back on their feet again, and I would not mind taking a look at it and see if there’s some way that we can get some of that money put back into the program,” DiGirolamo said.

When the program was ended in July, the Corbett Administration said it would work to connect former recipients with other benefits.

Debbie Plotnick, with the Mental Health Association of Southeast Pennsylvania, says that’s little comfort to a large portion of General Assistance’s former clients. 

“Giving people utility assistance when they are living on the streets is not helpful,” Plotnick said. “Giving people utility assistance when they live in a recovery house is not helpful.” 

Some advocates say that shows a lack of understanding of the circumstances of General Assistance recipients some of whom are homeless, or are living in group homes.