Money shortage forces end to DWS general assistance

Posted at 7:43 PM, Apr 25, 2013
and last updated 2013-04-26 00:13:18-04

SALT LAKE CITY - A program that provides temporary financial help to those unable to work is being put on hold because of a money shortage.

With general assistance, low-income workers with no children who are deemed unable to work receive a monthly check for up to a year.

"The average is about $288 a month," said Nic Dunn with the Department of Workforce Services.

The Department of Workforce Services helps up to 1,000 people a month, but budget shortfalls are forcing them to no longer accept new applicants beginning May 1.

"If we were to keep our new applications open, there wouldn't be enough money to go through the fiscal year," Dunn said.

Many of the people who apply for the services are homeless and don't have any other resources to pull from. The money gives them a lifeline until they're able to apply for social security benefits, which can take at least a year.

"It's an unfortunate further burden for people who are already living a very difficult life and just barely getting by," said Mike Bulson, attorney for Utah Legal Services.

Bulson says that for now, those people will have to turn to community resources for food and shelter, and with no timeline on when, or if, the benefits will be restored, the impact could be felt for awhile.