Hohenstein supports the most vulnerable in Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG, March 28 – State Rep. Joseph Hohenstein, D-Phila., today announced his support for General Assistance and denounced H.B. 33, which would re-enact the elimination of the General Assistance cash benefit program.

“I am focused on supporting the most vulnerable people in Pennsylvania,” Hohenstein said. “We need to understand that everyone has different scenarios at home. People such as emancipated minors, victims of domestic abuse, those suffering from substance abuse disorder and other mental health conditions, pregnant women, people suffering from disabilities due to military services, and even veterans in general can benefit from this General Assistance program. I think about them, and they are struggling. We shouldn’t be taking pennies away from the penniless.”

Hohenstein said the General Assistance program costs about $57 million, just 0.006 percent of the total General Fund budget.

He said legislation to eliminate General Assistance was introduced this year because the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned a 2012 law (Act 80) that stripped money from about 60,000 General Assistance recipients and eliminated the program. Following that court decision, the Department of Human Services began operating the program again.

General Assistance provides approximately $200 a month to low-income and disabled Pennsylvanians in emergency situations who do not qualify for federally funded Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefits so they can pay for basic needs. People helped by the program include disabled veterans, those suffering from domestic abuse, pregnant women, people with mental health issues, people battling substance use disorder and others who are vulnerable in society.

“This is an issue that directly affects the 177th Legislative District,” Hohenstein said. “Many of my constituents need to utilize General Assistance. One out of every seven people in the district lives in poverty and General Assistance is often the difference between having basic needs met or going without them. We always have to take care of those who are most in need.”

Democratic amendments to maintain the program were defeated by the majority of Republicans. The bill is now positioned for a final vote in the House, which returns to session in April.