Philadelphia officials met to discuss the question of the proposed 2013 state budget's impact on the city yesterday, and the answer was devastating.
"Frankly, I don't know how we're going to live with these cuts, especially in light of the cuts to our services in the last four years," said Deputy Mayor for Health and Opportunity Donald Schwartz.
Overall, the city is looking at a $41-plus million loss in state assistance – about $7 million in cuts to public health services and $34 million in the form of a block grant to the Department of Human Services.
"Imagine taking dollars for community mental health services, programs for addiction, services for those who are intellectually disabled and the homeless, health care support and child welfare, put them all in one pot and cut them all by 20 percent," Schwartz said when describing the block grant.
While about two-thirds of the block grant will affect community mental health services, Schwartz said the effects will spill over to ordinary Philadelphians. He expects a large increase in the city's street, unserviced mentally ill and foster child populations, as well as more stress on the already-overburdened emergency medical and criminal justice systems.
"I'm very worried about what Philadelphia and the Commonwealth will look like in the future," Schwartz said.
This all comes in addition to the proposed elimination of approximately $60 million the city currently receives through the Department of Public Welfare's General Assistance, according to representatives from Community Legal Services of Philadelphia.
"The fight has just begun," attorney Jonathan Stein said. "Hopefully, people will wake up to how radical and major it is to cut a lifeline for an entire group of people."
By the numbers
A look at what city officials describe as devastating consequences in the next year:
Fewer people helped at outpatient mental health services
Less addicts able to receive outpatient treatment and detoxification
Fewer intellectually disabled people living at home who can get support services
Fewer beds in mental health residential programs