With general assistance now gone in Pa., how will people cope?

From: Philadelphia Inquirer

For Jenese McKinley, the last General Assistance check came on July 30.

A $205-a-month stipend she received from the state of Pennsylvania to help her get by is now gone.

“I’m angry and frustrated,” said McKinley, 38, a learning-disabled, frequently homeless woman who is unable to hold a job. She currently lives in an apartment in Fairmount owned by the Philadelphia nonprofit Project HOME.

McKinley, who first spoke with The Inquirer last month as she anticipated the end of General Assistance, talked again on Friday about the reality of life without a vital cash infusion.

“I used that money to get shampoo, soap, to do my laundry,” McKinley added. “Plus, I won’t be able to pay my $1 co-pay for my prescriptions. I just don’t have it. I’m worried about my physical health.

“I can’t believe this has happened. It’s not fair.”

Fair or not, the $40 million Pennsylvania General Assistance program, essentially cash welfare for people without minor children, was eliminated on Aug. 1 after a seven-year campaign by Republicans in the state legislature who decried GA as wasteful.

Serving mostly disabled adults who have no income and can’t work, the program distributed stipends to 11,000 Pennsylvanians — 5,600 of them in Philadelphia, many of them homeless.

General Assistance also helped displaced victims of domestic violence, as well as people seeking addiction treatment.

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