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IRENE DRAGAN v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (01/10/79)

decided: January 10, 1979.

IRENE DRAGAN, PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WELFARE, RESPONDENT



Appeal from the Order of the Department of Public Welfare in case of Appeal of Irene Dragan, dated January 23, 1978.

COUNSEL

Eileen Yacknin, with her Louis Lessem, for petitioner.

Linda M. Gunn, Assistant Attorney General, for respondent.

Judges Rogers, Blatt and MacPhail, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Blatt.

Author: Blatt

[ 39 Pa. Commw. Page 600]

This is an appeal from an adjudication of the Department of Public Welfare (DPW) affirming the decision of the Allegheny County Board of Assistance (Board) that Irene Dragan (petitioner) was ineligible for Emergency Assistance benefits.

The testimony taken at the hearing before the DPW's hearing examiner revealed the following series of events. On or about August 27, 1977, the petitioner received a notice from her landlord that, due to the sale of the house in which she lived, she would have to vacate the premises within 30 days. She attempted to find a suitable place to relocate and was promised that she could move into another apartment at the end of September. Before she could move, however, she was unexpectedly hospitalized for approximately one month, during which time she had no contact with her prospective new landlord but continued to believe that she would move into the new apartment upon her discharge. She left the hospital on October 25, 1977 and

[ 39 Pa. Commw. Page 601]

    then was told by the prospective landlord that he no longer was willing to rent the apartment to her.*fn1 Faced with the fact that she had no place to live, she contacted her attorney who suggested that she attempt to secure a place at the Women's Center South, a temporary shelter for women. When informed that there were no vacancies there, she appealed to a woman who lived near to her former home and this ex-neighbor agreed to take her in temporarily until she could find a permanent residence. On October 28, 1977, when the petitioner requested Emergency Assistance benefits from the Board in order to enable her to obtain an apartment, the request was denied on the grounds that she was not "homeless" as she would have to be to establish eligibility. She appealed this decision and a fair hearing was held, after which the hearing examiner affirmed the decision of the Board and further concluded that the petitioner was also ineligible because her situation did not constitute an "emergency." The DPW Bureau of Hearing and Appeals affirmed the order of the examiner and this appeal followed.

Our scope of review of a DPW adjudication is limited to a determination as to whether or not it was supported by substantial evidence, and was in accordance with the law and as to whether or not the petitioner's constitutional rights were violated. Earley v. Department of Public Welfare, 13 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 17, 317 A.2d 677 (1974).

At the time of the petitioner's request for benefits here, the regulations governing eligibility for Emergency Assistance were found in DPW-OIM-PA Manual

[ 39 Pa. Commw. Page 602]

ยง 289.1 et seq. "Emergency" was defined in ...


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