Reps. Shusterman and Kenyatta team up to return emergency relief program for those hurt by elimination of General Assistance

HARRISBURG, July 3 – With the General Assistance program and the lifeline it provides to more than 11,000 Pennsylvanians set to expire on Aug. 1, state Reps. Melissa L. Shusterman and Malcolm Kenyatta are introducing legislation to provide emergency relief to those previously receiving General Assistance.

“We must help our most vulnerable citizens,” said Shusterman, D-Chester/Montgomery. “Our neighbors who relied on the roughly $200 a month General Assistance provided are veterans and their caregivers, victims of domestic violence, adults receiving substance abuse treatment and grandparents caring for their grandchildren.

“The benefits of the program for our neediest neighbors far exceeded the cost,” Shusterman said. “That’s why Representative Kenyatta and I are introducing legislation to create a new Emergency Relief fund.”

Funding for the Emergency Relief program would come from the state’s general fund.

Kenyatta, D-Phila., said he and Shusterman plan to visit one another’s districts and hear from the people who’ll be hurt when the General Assistance program ends.

“Those who stand to lose out when General Assistance ends are real people,” Kenyatta said. “We want to hear their stories and see their faces. We want them to know we will do all we can to help them achieve stability and self-sufficiency, and we believe an Emergency Relief program is a way to give them a hand up.”

For now, the lawmakers are finalizing the bill language and will request action on it when the House returns to session in September.

According to Kenyatta, similar legislation is being introduced in the Senate.