Higher Tuition, More Foreclosures: Just Some of the Ways We Are Paying the Price of Service Cuts

Price of Service CutsLast week, the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center launched a new series about the impact of five years of state service cuts on the citizens of Pennsylvania. Check out the first three installments below, and keep up with all the stories in the days and weeks ahead by liking our Facebook Page or bookmarking our Price of Service Cuts web page.

End to Mortgage Aid Nearly Cost Pennsylvania Woman Her Home

Judy earned a modest income from her clerical job until an unexpected health problem hit. She needed to work to pay her mortgage, but her doctor and physical therapist told her she had to take time off to recover. Judy, who lives in Allegheny County, went five months without income and fell behind on her mortgage payments. She faced the awful prospect of losing her home. ...

When Judy turned to the Homeowners’ Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program (HEMAP) for help, she hit a wall. Funding for HEMAP was cut so deeply in the 2011-12 state budget (by $8.5 million or over 80% from the previous year) that the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency had no choice but to shut HEMAP down in July 2011. Read the full story.

Fewer Places to Turn for Victims of Domestic Violence

After suffering abuse, Michelle went with her two young girls (2 and 6 years) to SafeNet, a domestic violence program in Erie. SafeNet’s emergency shelter was over capacity but made room for Michelle and her children. SafeNet offered Michelle and her children a safe place to stay and counseling. Staff and volunteers put in extra effort working with the children, unwitting victims who are often confused and traumatized by the violence they have witnessed, to assure their physical and emotional well-being.

Domestic violence shelters can only provide 30 days of shelter for victims, but Michelle needed more time to find permanent housing and get back on her feet. SafeNet continued to work with Michelle, but could no longer provide shelter because of limited funding. ...

Funding for domestic violence services in the commonwealth has been stagnant or decreasing over the last 11 years, while the operational costs of providing shelter and counseling have skyrocketed. The recession and high rate of unemployment, while not causes of domestic violence, are tied to an increase in both the frequency and severity of reported cases. With less funding, fewer victims are getting the help they need. Read the full story.

Drowning in Debt: Budget Cuts Raise Cost of College

Brittany graduated from Shippensburg University last year with $60,000 in student loans. She is thankful, however, because her communications degree did land her a job in New York where she commutes every day from Bucks County. Others are not so fortunate. Zachary invested in a five-year architecture/landscape program at Pennsylvania State University, and it has yet to pay off. After graduating, Zachary settled for a manual-labor landscaping job that has since ended. He is eager to work and has a career of academic achievement but simply cannot find a job.

These stories are not unique. Today, many young graduates are left holding a diploma but not a job after pouring time and money into a college education. As a result, more graduates are defaulting on their student loan payments each year. ...

State support of higher education has been cut dramatically in the past few years. ...

Behind the mortgage, the cost of college is often a family’s largest investment, and it is becoming increasingly unaffordable. Read the full story.

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