SOCIAL SERVICES DEPARTMENT

GENERAL ASSISTANCE

 

Hours of Operation: Monday—Friday 8am-4:30pm

If it is on a weekend or after hours and you have a life threatening emergency, you may contact the South Portland Police Department at (207) 799-5511.

Applications are by appointment only. Please call (207) 767-7617 to schedule an appointment. If you receive our voicemail, please provide your name, address, phone number and a detailed message. We will return your call as soon as possible.

 

Kristen Barth, Social Services Director

Paige Kombakis, Social Services Support Specialist

Genny Dyer, Social Services Administrative Assistant

 

 

 

About:

The General Assistance Program is a program designed to assist eligible residents of South Portland with basic necessities when they are unable to do so on their own. General Assistance is intended to be a program of “last resort”, other available programs, finances, or assistance programs must be utilized first before seeking General Assistance.  General Assistance is granted in voucher form, and no cash assistance is granted from the program. Individuals or families must apply for General Assistance by appointment.

The General Assistance Program is the most accountable assistance program in the State of Maine, and applicants are required to reduce their reliance on General Assistance.  This may mean searching for employment, or applying for disability benefits.  Applying for SNAP, applying for TANF, and applying for other state and federal benefits, may also be requirements given the individual situation of an individual or family. 

 

FAQs:

What is General Assistance?

General assistance (GA) is a program available in each municipality in Maine to help eligible people who do not have enough money to cover basic living costs. It provides confidential financial assistance to South Portland residents who are having difficulty meeting basic needs such as rent, food, electricity, personal and household supplies, medication, heating fuel, and other essential services.  You must apply for General Assistance it city or town that you are a resident.

Where does the money come from?

General Assistance is funded by local property taxes with 70% reimbursement from the state.

Do I have to be a South Portland resident?

For the purposes of this program a “resident” means a person who is physically present in South Portland with the intention of remaining in South Portland to maintain or establish a home and who has no other residence.

How can I apply?

Applications are taken by appointment. You can call (207) 767-7617 or come into the office to schedule an appointment.

What if I have an emergency and City Hall is closed?

If it is on a weekend or after hours and you have a life threatening emergency, you may contact the South Portland Police Department at (207) 799-5511.

How long does it take to apply?

Your first visit will require the completion of an application and an interview after the application.  The process typically takes between 30 minutes to one hour.

What information will I need when I apply?

Your General Assistance budget will be based on the 30-day period following your application. We will also look back to 30 days before you applied, to see what money you received, and how you spent it. You will need to provide:

  • Identification and Social Security cards of all household members
  • Passport/Visa and Immigration paperwork (I-589, etc.)
  • DHHS benefit letter
  • Income and expenses
  • Receipts for the past 30 days (repeat applicants)
  • Bank statement for the past 30 days with current balance
  • Landlord verification

Is this information I give on my application kept confidential?

Yes. Your application and any case records pertaining to it are strictly confidential by law. You, the applicant, your attorney and certain government personnel may review your records. The City will need to know who to pay your GA vouchers to, such as your landlord. The City will also need for you to give permission for them to contact people who can verify your income and other necessary information. The general public cannot review your records unless you have given your written permission.

If I receive Food Stamps, TANF, Social Security, Veterans Benefits, Unemployment or Worker’s Compensation am I still able to receive General Assistance?

Maybe. If your income is less than your necessary expenses and the program’s income maximum, you may be eligible to receive General Assistance. You can call and schedule an appointment for an eligibility determination.

When will I get help?

We will issue you a written decision as to your eligibility within 24 hours after you apply and we will promptly furnish any assistance for which you are determined eligible within our guidelines. However, please be aware that if you have not furnished sufficient information, including verification required, to enable us to determine eligibility, we must consider your application incomplete and find you ineligible for any assistance until you reapply with adequate information

How much assistance can I get?

The General Assistance Program is regulated by State Law, which has set an overall maximum amount of assistance that a household can receive. In addition, each municipality’s GA guidelines contain maximum amounts of assistance allowable for each category of assistance including, rent, food, electricity, etc. We cannot exceed those established maximums even though household’s expenses for various items may exceed those amounts. To be eligible, your income must fall below the overall maximum level of assistance for a household your size and your income must also be less than the amount you need to pay for basic necessities using City guidelines.

If I am eligible will I get cash or a check?

General Assistance does not furnish money directly to the eligible person or household. All assistance is issued in the form of City vouchers payable to vendors who have provided your household with goods or services.

How long can I continue to get help?

At the time an applicant receives a decision on their application, the administrator will inform them of their responsibilities for being eligible in the future. The period covered by your application and any assistance given under that application cannot exceed 30 days. However, there is no limitation on how many times a person can reapply and continue to be found eligible for assistance. The General Assistance program budgets your needs for 30 days forward from the date of your application. Upon a repeat application for General Assistance, the client must provide documentation (receipts) of all their spending over the past thirty days. The amount of income from all sources received by the household must be provided. The Applicant must show that they have utilized all potential resources the administrator referred them to on their notice of eligibility.

What would cause me to be ineligible or disqualified from the General Assistance Program?

General Assistance is a program that encourages clients to do all they can to prevent needing future assistance. An applicant may be found ineligible to receive general assistance if they: misspend or cannot account for their money, quit or are fired from employment, willfully make a false representation about their situation, fail to furnish information to the administrator, forfeit a benefit such as SNAP, housing subsidy, unearned income, etc. Applicants may be subject to a 120 day disqualification if they do not adhere to program rules.