The state of Maine has created a program known as General Assistance (GA) to help residents pay everyday living expenses. It is run locally, by your local town office / government and it is only for residents of that municipality. Individuals and families may be eligible for help from this fund if your living costs are more than the money you currently have or if your expenses are higher than the income you can earn.
This is for short term needs though when the resident has either a shortfall in income or excessive expenses. GA will not cover long term needs. The General Assistance fund is a program that is run by every town throughout Maine to help people who live in that town who don't have enough money for a short period of time to pay their necessary living expenses.
You need to apply at your local town office. The applicant needs to be a resident of that area. Anyone can go to the town office in which they live and ask for and fill out an application. The application process will require that the individual provide extensive information. For example, you will be asked to write down your total household income, provide a list of all your expenses, such as rent, heating fuel, electricity, food and other things you must pay for, and also tell what cash you have on hand. You will also be asked if you have any bank accounts, cash, cars, or other things or assets of value.
In you are faced with an emergency or a crisis, you can always decide to apply by phone. Also in an emergency (say you run out of heating fuel) the town must take your application at once, and do what they can to expedite the review.
Note that the application process will vary slightly by town, as well as the type and amount of financial aid that they offer you. Some towns in Maine will consider certain assets, expenses, and income for an individual applies for general assistance, and some towns may not factor certain information into the application process.
Employment is also often required by GA. They may require a certain job history, or that the person take an action around working or job training. It is important to note that the rules and regulations will vary slightly, but at the end of the day the town does need to have a GA program. Each Maine town has specific rules about who can have this money. You have the right to read the rules in the town office, so ask if you need a copy.
The town will review how you spent your money over the last month or so. They look to see whether you spent responsibly, or carelessly. Families living beyond their means are less likely to get a grant from GA. They will ensure you have been looking for a job, and will ensure you have been doing what you can to increase your income.
The program must help pay for what are known as basic necessities. The list is pretty extensive, and a wide variety of bills and expenses fall into that category. But note, this exact list can vary by town.
The town in Maine that you live in needs to cooperate with the applicant and provide a reply to the application in short order, usually within 48 hours. Families with an emergency may get an answer in less time. Remember that the specifics of the application process may differ slightly for each Maine town, but at the end of the day each town needs to offer the program and also ensure the individual gets the information they need.
If you do not get the information or help you need, you can always call a non-profit law firm such as Pine Tree Legal for legal advice or the state of Maine Department of Human Services (1-800-442-6003). These other organizations can help ensure you were treated fairly and equally by the General Assistance program.
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