The opinion of the court was delivered by: BECKER
EDWARD R. BECKER, District Judge.
I. PRELIMINARY STATEMENT.
Plaintiff Groff was a tenant. Plaintiff Emerson is a homeowner. By the time of trial, Mrs. Groff was apparently no longer on the assistance rolls, and counsel for plaintiffs could not find her. However, the bulk of the facts affecting Mrs. Groff had already been stipulated to and incorporated in the Court's pretrial order; moreover, facts affecting a tenant's claim were adduced at the trial. The state Attorney General has not asked us to dismiss the Groff claim as moot or to refrain from consideration of it. Counsel for the plaintiffs, citing to us the rule that questions of public importance "capable of repetition yet evading review" are not readily mooted,
have asked us to consider the Groff claim. Neither side has requested that we amend our class action determination, made pursuant to agreement of counsel.
In view of the foregoing, as well as our analysis of the case and of the disposition we make, we will consider both the tenant (Groff) and the homeowner (Emerson) claims.
II. A DISCUSSION OF THE REGULATIONS UNDER ATTACK AND OF THE CONCEPT OF A WELFARE "STANDARD".
The Pennsylvania Manual ("Manual") lists five "common items" as being needed by all welfare recipients. These items are food, clothing, incidentals, utilities and shelter.
The shelter allowance as defined in the Manual is the actual monthly cost, depending on the kind of living arrangement the welfare client has, for certain component items. In the case of a tenant, the items consist of the actual rental payment plus small additional sums for water, sewerage and garbage and refuse disposal. In the case of a homeowner, the sums included are mortgage interest and amortization payments, property taxes, house insurance, major repairs or replacements, and small sums for water, sewerage, garbage disposal and minor upkeep and repairs. The regulations set forth a maximum shelter allowance, which provides a ceiling, stated in dollar terms, regardless of the actual monthly cost to the welfare client.
The utilities allowance, on the other hand, is not stated by the Manual in terms of actual cost, but in terms of a fixed monthly dollar allowance for utilities, depending upon the number in the family unit. In welfare parlance, this type of allowance is known as a "standard". Food, clothing and incidentals are also stated in the Manual in terms of a standard.
The testimony further established that the reason that shelter is set forth in terms of actual cost rather than in terms of a standard is that there is a wide variation in housing costs in different areas of the state, and, in fact, even within different areas of the same county. Hence, it is impossible to develop a standard for shelter. In this respect, therefore, shelter is unique in the allowance scheme. While under the fundamental structure of the Manual, a welfare recipient receives his actual shelter cost as the shelter allowance, and receives the amount of the applicable utility standard, there is an exception to this scheme. It is found in the following section, from which the issues raised in this case emanate:
"a. If payment for all utilities is included in the payment for shelter, the U[utilities] allowance is combined with the shelter allowance and the sum is the maximum allowance for shelter and utilities."