frequency. From this, plaintiffs argue that the "invidious discrimination" against the class they represent is far from an isolated phenomenon.
IV. THE COMMONWEALTH'S EVIDENCE.
The lone Commonwealth witness was Mrs. Debra Davis, Director of the Bureau of Assistance Policies and Standards with the Department of Public Welfare. Inter alia, Mrs. Davis' testimony established the following matters:
1. The dichotomy between shelter and utilities is not unique to Pennsylvania. Forty-nine of the fifty states provide for separate shelter and utilities allowances.
2. In cases where the department, because a tenant pays one or more (or all) utilities to the landlord together with his rental payment, makes a lump sum allowance for shelter and utilities approximating the maximum combined shelter and utilities costs, the Department does not attempt to obtain a breakdown of the payment to the landlord as to its shelter and utilities components. Mrs. Davis testified that there is no way of determining the allocation of a rental payment as between shelter and utilities, not even in the case of public housing inhabitants. Put differently, she testified that it is administratively impossible to determine utilities costs in the majority of the cases (i.e., those where the rental payment includes the utilities).
3. If the relief sought by plaintiffs were to eventuate, and shelter savings to be applied to excess utility costs within the level of the combined maximum, or if a flat grant were instituted with respect to housing costs consisting of both shelter and utilities, there would be required a substantial additional expenditure by the Commonwealth for the welfare system. This would mean that, if additional funds were not available, there would have to be a pro rata reduction in the assistance allotments to all recipients.
4. Approximately 57% of the welfare recipients pay a sum equal to or greater than the maximum allotment for shelter costs. If plaintiffs were granted the requested relief, and individuals paying more than the maximum utility allowance but less than the maximum shelter allowance were permitted to apply shelter savings to excess utility costs, these individuals would be given an advantage over those individuals who receive the maximum shelter allowance but who also have utility bills in excess of the maximum utility allowance and would therefore not receive that excess.
5. A three-bedroom house, for instance, cannot be "costed out" into a standard, because of the wide variability in housing costs. One purpose of permitting the shelter allowance to be based upon actual expenditure is to permit freedom of mobility by the welfare recipient.
6. There are 300,000 recipients of welfare payments in Pennsylvania, and approximately 600,000 individuals are affected by the program.
7. Efforts have been made to achieve a flat grant for each welfare recipient in Pennsylvania, but these efforts have been unsuccessful.
Mrs. Davis concluded by expressing the view that it is impossible to combine those items based upon standards and those based upon actual costs and achieve an equitable result.
V. THE CASE OF DANDRIDGE v. WILLIAMS.
It has been settled law for some time now that the benefit of the equal protection clause is extended to recipients of public assistance benefits. Shapiro v. Thompson, 394 U.S. 618, 89 S. Ct. 1322, 22 L. Ed. 2d 600 (1969). To meet the test of equal protection of the laws, the state-imposed classification or regulation must rest upon some difference which bears a reasonable and just relation to the act in respect to which the classification is proposed, and the distinction drawn must be rationally related to furthering the purposes of the act in respect to which the classification is established. Carrington v. Rash, 380 U.S. 89, 85 S. Ct. 775, 13 L. Ed. 2d 675 (1965); F.S. Royster Guano Co. v. Virginia, 253 U.S. 412, 40 S. Ct. 560, 64 L. Ed. 989 (1920).
The controlling formulation by the Supreme Court of the applicability of the equal protection clause to state welfare regulations is found in the recent case of Dandridge v. Williams, 397 U.S. 471, 90 S. Ct. 1153, 25 L. Ed. 2d 491 (1970). Dandridge provides the matrix for decision in this case. Dandridge considered the Maryland welfare statute which provides grants to most families in accord with the ascertained standard of need, but imposes an upper limit upon the total amount of money any one family can receive.
The Maryland statute computes the standard of need for each eligible family based upon the number of children in the family and the circumstances under which the family lives. In general, the standard of need increases with each additional person in the household, but the increments become proportionately smaller. The plaintiffs in Dandridge all had large families, so that their standards of need as computed by the State substantially exceeded the maximum grants that they actually received under the regulation. They urged "that the maximum grant limitation operates to discriminate against them merely because of the size of their families, in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment."
The Dandridge Court upheld the Maryland flat grant limitation. Inter alia, the court said:
"Given Maryland's finite resources, its choice is either to support some families adequately and others less adequately, or not to give sufficient support to any family. We see nothing in the federal statute that forbids a State to balance the stresses that uniform insufficiency of payments would impose on all families against the greater ability of large families -- because of the inherent economies of scale -- to accommodate their needs to diminished per capita payments. * * *