General assistance, and the fight to save it, come to an end in Pa.

Pat Loeb
August 01, 2019 - 6:39 pm
Pennsylvania Capitol Building in Harrisburg.

Bodhichita/Getty Images


PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The General Assistance program for low-income Pennsylvanians officially ended Thursday, and a legal effort to keep it operating has failed. 

Commonwealth Court rejected an injunction request by Community Legal Services (CLS), on behalf of several clients, to block the halting of General Assistance. Attorney Maria Pulzetti said she's deeply disappointed.

Related: Advocates file suit to save cash assistance for low-income Pennsylvanians

"We're very worried for our clients and for everyone who's receiving General Assistance," she said.

About 10,000 Pennsylvanians have been receiving $200 a month since the program was restored last year, including people with disabilities, domestic abuse victims, and others who have no source of outside income. 

The city and several advocacy organizations filed amicus briefs for the recipients, but Pulzetti said the court ruled without holding a hearing.

"We certainly wanted the opportunity to present testimony from our clients and from a number of social service agencies and public officials, but who didn't have a chance to speak to the judges," she added.

The court ruled CLS did not show the plaintiffs would suffer irreparable harm without the injunction. The larger case CLS argued — that the law ending the program was unconstitutional — will proceed, but it could take years.