Our Declining Social Safety Net

Pennsylvania’s Republican Governor Tom Corbett dropped the social programming equivalent of a nuclear bomb on the addiction recovery community in Philadelphia earlier this month, when he eliminated the welfare funding that pays for the vast majority of recovery housing in the city. General Assistance—a small monthly welfare cash payment of $205 for temporarily disabled single adults with no dependents—has for decades provided some relief to Pennsylvania’s poorest of the poor. Philadelphia’s recovery houses—sober living spaces for homeless addicts coming off the streets—have long used GA payments coupled with food stamps (now called SNAP) to provide room and board for people whose only alternatives are homeless shelters and abandoned buildings.

So much for social safety nets. Pennsylvania has eliminated its General Assistance program for childless adults who are unemployable because they have become disabled or are “elderly, escaping domestic violence, or caring for a disabled family member,” and are not eligible for other assistance. The majority of states have already eliminated General Assistance for “able-bodied” childless adults, and now it looks like cuts are going even much further. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has a chart showing how much benefits have fallen for unemployable adults, and, well, it’s quite sad.

(Thanks to Jon C. for sending.)

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