One-month reprieve for Pa. recipients of general assistance

An 11th-hour adjustment will give Pennsylvania recipients of a soon-to-close public welfare program one more month of benefits.

The state budget will eliminate the general assistance program, which provides about $200 a month in cash assistance to about 70,000 very low-income clients. About half live in Philadelphia.

It was originally slated to shut down on the start of the new fiscal year, which begins Sunday.

But now, recipients will collect benefits until Aug. 1.

Gov. Tom Corbett says his administration is working on connecting those in need to other benefit programs.

“From discussions with our staff, we believe that some people probably are not exercising access to certain areas that they might have access to,” he said Friday.

One Democratic senator says the reason for the extension is pressure from constituents and service providers who received a letter that the cash benefits would end abruptly in July.

“My district is around the corner from a welfare office, so you know, within two blocks, folks would come into district offices of mine, not just mine, but everyone’s, in a panic,” says Sen. Vince Hughes, D-Philadelphia.

A Department of Public Welfare spokeswoman says that letter was sent in error.

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