Access to Benefits

barbed wireResearch shows that more than half of Americans between the ages of 25 and 60 will face poverty for at least a year of their lives. It is critical that in those times they have access to the public benefits that will help them with food, medical assistance, housing, and other basic needs until they are back on their feet.

For years, Just Harvest has been helping Allegheny County residents overcome the obstacles they encounter when applying for public benefits –food stamps, cash assistance, medical benefits, child care, and LIHEAP – at the state’s Department of Public Welfare County Assistance Offices.

Just Harvest and its members also act as advocates for a more compassionate welfare system because we believe that every person has the right to a dignified life, a voice in the decisions that affect her/him, and a clear path to self-sufficiency. Unfortunately, the existing welfare system is often disempowering, frustrating, and unfair. Due to insufficient funding, poor implementation and administrative inefficiency, or misguided policies, many eligible individuals are denied, delayed, or deterred from receiving the public assistance they need.

Through one-on-one client support and advocacy we strive to eliminate such barriers to benefits.

We also aim to improve the quality of public safety net programs like Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), Food Stamps (SNAP), and others by:

  • lobbying for more sensible and compassionate welfare policies,
  • holding policy-makers accountable to clients directly,
  • educating the public about the realities of the system,
  • working to improve DPW customer service and to make high-quality service more accessible.