OUT OF ALL of Opal Gibson’s problems, losing $205 per month — the General Assistance payments she had received from the state until this August — is not the biggest. Gibson, 59, lost her job drawing blood at Einstein Hospital in 2010, soon after her son died falling from a three-story building while intoxicated; she lives with hepatitis C she thinks she contracted on the job; and she is recovering from drug addiction. But the end of General Assistance, consigned to oblivion by Gov. Tom Corbett and the Republican legislature this year, has made her problems much worse.
“First, I lost my job at Einstein,” said Gibson, after pausing to say grace over an all-you-can-eat lunch at Old Country Buffet, tucked into a parking lot among Roosevelt Boulevard’s strip malls. “The stress was tremendous. I had just buried my son. Then I got depressed and I started drinking, drugging. Couldn’t pay my rent anymore — [you] know where my money went.”
“After about three months, I was, like, ‘You know what? This isn’t for me. This is a loser way out.’ So I went and sought help.” Gibson, who has been clean and looking for work ever since, turned to cash welfare after 18 months of unemployment benefits ran dry. But thanks to Act 80, that small safety net has disappeared for her — and for 68,000 other Pennsylvanians who are disabled, victims of domestic violence or recovering addicts, or who are caring for other people’s children.To read more, please see Daniel Denvir's article.