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Resources for Mainers during pandemic

Apr 03, 2020

Augusta — Gov. Janet Mills and Maine Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew today announced several new steps to ensure Maine people have access to basic necessities in response to COVID-19.

These steps bolster the General Assistance program and improve the flexibility of programs that help families with food, housing and medications.

“These steps will help Maine people feed their families, pay their rent, and meet other basic needs in the face of this pandemic,” Mills said.

The latest changes will:

Bolster General Assistance

All applications for General Assistance will be processed as emergency applications for eligibility purposes, and certain other requirements are waived. Eligible individuals may reapply after 60 days rather than 30 days for ongoing assistance.

General Assistance is funded through communities, with DHHS reimbursing 70% of municipalities’ costs. DHHS will increase reimbursement to Maine Tribes to up to 100%.

General Assistance can be used for basic necessities including food, housing, electricity and medical expenses. Assistance is issued in the form of vouchers used to pay vendors who provide goods and services.

Boost SNAP

DHHS will issue emergency benefits for April and May to households that qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). This means DHHS will issue an additional $11.5 million in SNAP benefits for April, primarily through federal funds, in addition to the usual monthly amount for April of $17.5 million. Current SNAP participants and qualified new applicants will receive the maximum benefit allowed for their household size during April and May. Benefits are typically issued between the 10th and 14th of the month.

Applications are now accepted by phone without the need for a signature and no in-person or telephone interview is required.

DHHS has extended the recertification period and continuing benefits in cases where households did not complete reporting requirements during the months of March or April.

Strengthen TANF

Worker Supplement Benefits, a food benefit funded through Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, will increase from $50 to $100 per month for March through July, providing additional support to approximately 10,000 Maine households.

Families who rely on TANF may request an emergency extension to continue receiving benefits beyond the 60-month lifetime limit and may reapply for TANF if their benefit previously ended because they reached the limit. DHHS has also streamlined the application and recertification process.

TANF provides a temporary cash benefit to assist parents in meeting their families’ basic needs.

Anyone struggling to provide food, health care or basic necessities for themselves or their families should visit maine.gov/dhhs/documents/Accessing-Assistance-Through-Maine-DHHS.pdf.

 

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