• Target 11: Welfare Cuts Take effect Aug. 1

    Updated:

    Welfare cuts mean thousands of people will be struggling to pay the bills. 

    The new state budget eliminates general assistance.  Target 11’s Robin Taylor found out why lawmakers felt the cuts were necessary.

    The welfare department said cutting general assistance will save the state close to $150 million, but it also means 61,000 Pennsylvanians will no longer get the money they count on to pay for basic living expenses.

    "I was kind of numb when my caseworker told me, but reality set in when I got the letter," said Gina Apparicio, a welfare recipient.

    Apparicio gets $200 a month in cash assistance from the state.  She's temporarily disabled after a car accident left her unable to work.

    "I wake up with pain.  I go to bed with pain.  It is constant pain 24 hours," said Apparicio.

    It's not a lot of money, but it goes toward utilities, transportation, and co-pays for her medication.

    "I'm one of many that are getting affected by this," said Apparicio.

    Pennsylvania joins eight states that have eliminated or cut back general assistance in the past year.

    "It's a bad economy and we had to look at where we could make cuts. This is not an easy decision," said Donna Morgan, a spokeswoman for the Department of Public Works.

    The program mainly benefits childless adults who are temporarily disabled or are waiting for permanent disability benefits.

    "This benefit also helps people that are fleeing from domestic violence relationships, so it may force someone to stay in that kind of a situation instead of being able to leave," said Ellie Eisenstat, with Jewish Family & Children's Service.

    Eisenstat fears cutting the program will have unintended consequences.

    "I think we're going to see an influx of people into shelters, people getting very ill, going into hospitals," said Eisenstat.     

    In the long run, that could cost the state more.  As for Apparicio, she's hoping her church can help.

    "I've been praying since I heard about it.  That's all I can do is give it to God," said Apparicio.

    Medical assistance will continue for people like Gina who rely on this welfare benefit.

    The program gets no federal funding and that's why many states have cut it.

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