Monday, February 18, 2019

The general mess around Pa.’s General Assistance - opinion by John Baer

John Baer ( takes on the politics around General Assistance and gets it right!
Sometimes political pragmatism can hurt. Take the effort to resolve the mess surrounding Pennsylvania’s General Assistance program. The program provides small cash grants to the most vulnerable, those flat on the seafloor of the economic tide. Qualifiers constitute a class to which no one wants to belong. 

Roughly 90 percent have permanent or temporary disabilities. People who can’t work. People with no income. Also, people in rehab. And victims of domestic violence displaced from their homes. They’re almost all adults with no dependent children or without custody of their children, though some child cases qualify, including orphans living with non-relatives.

Grants range, depending on local cost of living, from $170 to $215 a month ($205 in Philly). Most are not ongoing. They’re to help folks applying for Social Security disability income, a process that can take two years. And grants to domestic violence victims and those in rehab are restricted to nine months over one’s lifetime. 

Oh, and the feds reimburse the state when disability applicants are approved. The money is for basics. To rent a bed from a friend. Share a room somewhere. Buy over-the-counter meds. Or bus fare. Or soap or deodorant. Or to do laundry. The program is humane. It’s been around for decades. Well, it was around, then it wasn’t. Now it’s back, but looks like not for long. 

Read the rest of John's opinion here