A Shrinking Portion of the Safety Net

Brief

A Shrinking Portion of the Safety Net

General Assistance from 1989 to 1998
September 1, 1999

Abstract

This report finds that General Assistance has contracted considerably over the past decade. During this period, states shrank their GA programs by restricting assistance to some groups, especially able-bodied adults without dependent children, and by holding benefits to pre-1989 levels. Many of the cutbacks to GA were enacted in the early part of the decade when states' budgets were tight as a result of the poor economy. As the fiscal situation of states improved, however, none have made substantial restorations. Although GA programs exist to provide income support to populations ineligible for federal cash assistance, the paper concludes that states have limited the capacity of their programs to provide such support.

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