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Cuts to General Assistance program causes additional stress

Today thousands of individuals across Pennsylvania already facing hardship will be challenged further as the cut to the General Assistance cash assistance program goes into effect. Effective today, the new state budget eliminates this benefit program which provided a small monthly cash allowance for individuals who are temporarily disabled and unable to work, permanently disabled and unable to work, victims of domestic violence and addicts seeking help to turn their lives around.

Although medical assistance and SNAP (food stamp) benefits are not affected, the funds afforded through this program typically made the difference between being able to get by or extreme hardship. This program elimination carries the potential risk of causing an individual to lose their home or forgo needed medications because they simply can’t afford it.

For many families already living on the edge, even with their General Assistance benefit, JF&CS and service agencies like ours may be their only hope of finding resources to meet their day-to-day needs. This program elimination has the potential to significantly drain resources and put extra strain not only on JF&CS and our community, but for service agencies state-wide, as more people turn to organizations like JF&CS for help.

Last week, WPXI featured a segment about the General Assistance program elimination.  In the segment, JF&CS client Gina Apparicio shares her story with reporter Robin Taylor and Ellie Eisenstat, program & resource coordinator at JF&CS, speaks to the effect this program elimination will have, not only on individuals, but also the expected added strain on service agencies and providers in the area. Click below to view the WPXI story online.

Welfare cuts Ellie

At JF&CS, we work with individuals facing crises. A JF&CS critical needs resource coordinator will help identify and connect them to community resources, and if community resources aren’t available, can turn to our SOS Pittsburgh fund if appropriate.

Through SOS Pittsburgh, limited, one-time emergency funds are available to help pay for various emergencies such as avoiding eviction, transportation to allow an individual to get to work, medical needs, including co-pays and medications, past due utility bills or critical home repair. To receive emergency funds, screening is required by the SOS Pittsburgh Social Service & Critical Needs Coordinator at JF&CS’s Squirrel Hill Community Food Pantry, through which SOS Pittsburgh is administered, and assistance must be approved by the review committee of SOS Pittsburgh.

At JF&CS, we’re committed to serving the needs of our community, providing support and services to those in need, in a manner that encourages and ensures our clients are able to achieve and maintain self-sufficiency and long-term well-being. If you or someone you know is struggling and needs help, or if you would like to help support JF&CS and our critical needs assistance programs, please call us today at 412-422-7200.