General Assistance Saved in Pennsylvania Supreme Court!
We have great news!
In 2012, the PA General Assembly and Governor Tom Corbett enacted Act 80 which, among other things, eliminated the General Assistance (GA) program. GA provided a small amount of money—$205 per month—to the most vulnerable individuals in Pennsylvania who were not eligible for any other programs: disabled or sick adults without children, domestic violence survivors, adults caring for someone who was sick or disabled, adults participating in alcohol and other drug treatment programs and children living with an unrelated adult.
Community Legal Services of Philadelphia challenged the constitutionality of Act 80 and, Wednesday, July 19, in a 7-0 decision, the Supreme Court agreed that in rushing to repeal GA the General Assembly violated the procedural requirements of the state Constitution. The state will soon have to restore the General Assistance program, but we don’t know the timeline yet.
Sister Mary Scullion, Executive Director of Project HOME, who testified against Act 80, said: “The restoration of General Assistance in Pennsylvania will help prevent homelessness for thousands of Pennsylvanians and is an essential safety net for the most vulnerable Pennsylvanians. Every day we meet people who have no income and are struggling to survive. Having access again to General Assistance can enable someone to rent a room and restore their dignity.”
It is time to celebrate this important victory! There is lots to learn about next steps, so please join with Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center in a sign-on letter both celebrating this Supreme Court decision and reaffirming our support of the General Assistance program. This will also help us stay in touch with your organization as we learn more about next steps.