Profile of Services
The General Assistance program in Maine is administered by each town and city in order to provide immediate financial assistance to help people who do not have enough money for their basic needs, such as, rent/mortgage, food, fuel and other items that are essential to maintain a household.
- The assistance is provided in the form of a voucher, which is mailed to the specific vendor.
- Assistance is granted for 30 days or less and must be applied for.
- Decisions will be made within 24 hours of receipt.
- Emergency General Assistance may be available for those individuals who otherwise may not be eligible for regular General Assistance.
- If you receive General Assistance you will be required to repay the municipality if and when you are able to do so.
General Assistance Application
Overview of Services
The General Assistance Program assists residents of Bowdoin with basic necessities, such as:
- Heating Fuel
- LP Gas
- Non-elective Medical Services
- Telephone when Medically Necessary
- Personal Supplies
- Household Supplies
This program continues to be a safety net for the neediest.
General Assistance has developed into a program that makes recipients more accountable and encourages self-reliance. A person applying for this assistance is required to utilize all available resources, i.e. TANF, food stamps, Medicaid, fuel assistance, subsidized daycare, etc. With overall maximum levels of assistance being quite low, it is critical to network with local and area resources to access all available assistance. Bowdoin is fortunate to have a variety of dedicated service providers who work together to offer services to Bowdoin residents, including local clergy, school personnel, senior citizen representatives, mental health professionals and police personnel.
Assistance is also offered with completing Maine State Property Tax and Rent Refund forms. Forms for this program are available at the Town Office and the application must be completed and submitted by January 31st.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I apply for general assistance?
People wishing to apply for assistance should call the department to schedule an appointment. Each person needs to complete an application in order to determine eligibility.
What do I need to do to qualify for general assistance?
Each applicant is responsible for providing the general assistance administrator with information necessary to determine eligibility. This includes information verifying members of the household. documentation of all sources of income received by the household (salary, child support, workers compensation benefits, unemployment, SSI, SSDI, social security, as well as any money received from family members, tax returns, etc.). Additionally, applicants need to provide documentation of their expenses for basic necessities (these include housing, heat, electricity, water, sewer, food, phone when medically necessary, prescriptions, etc.) and work related expenses (child care expenses, transportation to work). The administrator will make a determination of eligibility based on the overall maximums allowed by the State and the municipality. Clients will receive a decision sheet showing whether or not they are eligible for assistance and what they will need to do to be eligible for future assistance.
General Assistance is available to anyone in the state who is in need at that time, however, income must fall below the overall maximum level of assistance for the household size based on the local General Assistance ordinance and the applicants income must be less than what is needed to pay for basic necessities.
What can general assistance assist with?
The town will grant assistance to eligible applicants for basic necessities according to the maximum levels for specific types of assistance. Basic necessities include housing, heat, LP Gas, electricity, food, personal and household supplies, and other basic necessities when they are deemed essential to an applicant’s or recipient’s health and safety by the general administrator.
What do I need to do to be eligible for future assistance?
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. Once applying for general assistance all clients, regardless of whether or not they received any benefits, are responsible for showing that they have done all they can to prevent needing general assistance again. This includes providing documentation (receipts) of all their spending over the past thirty days (or longer if they are seeking assistance with back due bills). Again, the amount of income from all sources received by the household must be provided. Additionally, the applicant must show that they have utilized all potential resources the administrator referred them to.
What would cause me to be ineligible or disqualified from the 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 their money on items that are not considered basic necessities (this will count as money that is still available to the household and will affect the amount of eligibility); if a client forfeits a benefit, this benefit will not be replaced; if a client quits a job without just cause, they are disqualified from receiving assistance for a 120 day period.; for failing to perform or complete a workfare assignment; for willfully making a false representation about their eligibility; for not providing or permitting the administrator to gather the necessary verification and documentation as required; as well as others.
How often can I apply for assistance?
Generally, general assistance is determined for a one to thirty day period only. If an applicant needs to apply for general assistance again, they are responsible for making sure they have met the requirements of the program for eligibility.
What if I disagree with the decision of the administrator?
If you disagree with the decision, applicants should discuss the matter with the administrator. All applicants have the right to request a Fair Hearing which would provide the applicant with a Board composed of individuals not involved in the decision to decide whether you are eligible for assistance. If you would like a Fair Hearing, you must request a hearing in writing within 5 working days of when you receive your decision.