PITTSBURGH (NewsRadio 1020) -According to many people in Pennsylvania, they believe that the dramatic drop of accepted welfare recipients is due to a law put in to place in 2012. July 2012 brought a state law that required all applicants to apply to at least three jobs a week while they are receiving welfare and while their application is still pending.
On average, 75 percent or more applicants are denied cash assistance every month in Pennsylvania. However, the state Department of Public Welfare says there is not enough tracking data to determine if that policy was the reason for more rejections. But, advocates for the applicants are claiming the county offices did not properly inform the people of this requirement early on in the application process.
Officials for the department tell the Pittsburgh Post Gazette that applicants are informed about the job search requirements either online when they fill out their form, or through the paperwork that is mailed. They add that they hope to have a code to determine which applicants were denied by this law in the near future.
According to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, in recent years the number of residents receiving welfare assistance has declined to 188,015 Pennsylvanians in February. Currently 41-49 percent of people are rejected for Medicaid and 35-40 percent are denied food stamps every month. Also, in February the state’s unemployment rate was 6.2 percent.
The Post Gazette concludes the governor’s proposed budget for this year includes $225 million toward child care services, $271 million to cash assistance, $136 million will go to employment and training. While the remaining funds will be put towards human services, county assistance, office caseworkers and other administrative jobs.
Rochelle Jackson is the Public Policy Advocate for Just Harvest, an anti-hunger group in Pittsburgh. The non-profit group, Just Harvest was founded in 1986 to help Pittsburgh end hunger and poverty.
According to their website, the group believes that hunger and poverty are only symptoms economic and political injustice. They believe the government needs to treat all people fairly and allow them to live with dignity and not go hungry.
“No one is saying that anyone without a job should not look for work, but we’re making a basic assumption first of all with this legislation,” said Jackson. “We’re making an assumption that people who come through those doors to file for cash assistance, haven’t already tried looking for a job and are not interested in looking for a job, when I believe that that is absolutely not the case.”
Jackson does not agree with the group belief that all applicants for welfare are scamming the system and that they aren’t looking for jobs. She herself was a recipient of welfare and expressed how that was not a pleasant experience.
But Jackson stands with the thought that the only way these people can apply for jobs is with their supportive services like transportation and child services. She used an example of a single mother with two children does not have the Internet or transportation to make those job applications a reality, they need help.