Pennsylvania, Ohio Need Additional $3.3 Billion to Maintain Safety Net, Report Finds

Pennsylvania, Ohio Need Additional $3.3 Billion to Maintain Safety Net, Report Finds

Pennsylvania and Ohio will need an additional $3.3 billion in funding over the next two years to safeguard their social services safety net, a new report from five area community foundations finds.

Prepared by the Cleveland, Columbus, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Toledo Community foundations, the report, The Recession's Impact on the Safety Net in Ohio and Pennsylvania (28 pages, PDF), found that $1.61 billion in supplemental funding is needed in Pennsylvania and $1.69 billion in Ohio for 2009 and 2010 to enable nonprofits and public agencies to adequately respond to the increased demand for basic safety net services. That figure includes some $80.3 million needed in Pennsylvania and $84.6 million in Ohio to support community-based nonprofits such as foodbanks and transportation assistance agencies.

Delivered last week to President-elect Obama's transition team and members of Congress, the report is the result of a two-month study on the effects of the steep economic downturn in the two states. Foodbanks in the five cities, for instance, reported that first-time users of their services have increased between 9 percent and 46 percent, while calls for mortgage assistance to avoid foreclosures rose by 50 percent and requests for help with utility payments spiked between 25 percent and 75 percent. In Pennsylvania, the waiting list for child care subsidy has jumped 100 percent.

Senior executives from the five community foundations will gather in Washington, D.C., later this month for further discussions and to support their call for the Obama administration to give priority to strengthening community safety nets as part of its proposed economic stimulus package.

"We understand the need to bail out financial institutions and businesses," Pittsburgh Foundation president and CEO Grant Oliphant told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, "but we also need to focus on those who have lost their jobs, people who are hungry and cold, and families who are losing their homes."

"'Communities in Crisis' Prepare Report for Obama's Transition Team." Philadelphia Foundation Press Release 01/14/2009. David M. Brown. "Report: Pa., Ohio Need Billions to Meet Social Services Needs." Pittsburgh Tribune-Review 01/15/2009.