Frequently Asked Questions:

What is General Assistance?
General assistance is a program available in each municipality in Maine to help eligible people who do not have enough money to cover basic living costs. This program provides confidential financial assistance to Sanford/Springvale residents who are having difficulty meeting basic needs for housing, food, heating fuel, and other goods or services essential to maintain themselves or their families.  General Assistance is a DHHS program that is administered at the municipal level.
Where does the money come from?
The program is funded by local property taxes with a 70% reimbursement from the State of Maine Department of Health and Human Services - provided all state laws, municipal ordinance, and policies have been followed.
How can I apply?
Applications are taken in person at Sanford City Hall and are done by appointment only.  The easiest way to schedule an appointment is by phone.  You may come to the office if you do not have a phone, but you will not apply at that time.  You will be given a date and time to come back and complete a scheduled application.
Do I have to be a Sanford/Springvale resident?
You either have to be a resident of Sanford/Springvale or you must have no residence anywhere and intend to establish a home in Sanford/Springvale.  If you reside in another town and want to move to Sanford/Springvale, you must apply for General Assistance in the town where you are currently living.
What if I have an emergency and Town Hall is closed?
If you have an after-hours emergency, you may call the Sanford Police Department at 207-324-3644.  An emergency means someone's life is in danger or that someone will suffer unreasonable hardship and the situation was unavoidable and unforeseeable.
How long does it take to apply?
The time it takes to complete an application will depend on several factors, but will usually take 45 minutes to an hour.
What information will I need when I apply?
The items needed for your application will depend on what it is you are applying for help with and your financial situation.  The GA office will give you a detailed list of items you will need when you schedule your application appointment.
Is the information I give on my application kept confidential?
Yes, your application and attached information is kept confidential.  The only people who may see your information are General Assistance staff and DHHS staff who are responsible for overseeing General Assistance.  The only other people who will be allowed to know anything about your application are those you have allowed by signed permission.
If I receive Food Stamps, TANF, Social Security, Veterans Benefits, Unemployment or Worker's Compensation am I still able to receive General Assistance?
Any income available to you will be subtracted from your maximum amount of eligibility under the General Assistance program.  Participation in any of the listed programs will not automatically make you ineligible for General Assistance, but the amount you are receiving might.  It is always best to complete an application to make sure.
When will I get help?
Your application will be scheduled as soon as possible based on the need.  A decision regarding your application must be made within 24 hours, but is normally made at the end of your application appointment.
If I am eligible will I get a check?
Payment is not made directly to the eligible applicant.  Assistance is paid either by direct check to the provider (i.e. your landlord or Central Maine Power) or it is provided as a voucher that can be redeemed at a specific vendor.
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 state and city guidelines.
How long can I continue to get help?
General Assistance cannot be granted for a period of more than thirty (30) days.  Assistance can be applied for again, but only after that first thirty days have passed.  A new application would be done at that time and will require more information than your initial application and will have additional eligibility requirements.  General Assistance is designed to be a short term program to help someone through a tough time.  Most people only apply one time and then typically are back on their feet.  Technically, a person could apply 12 times in a year, but that is very rare.
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 their money on items that are not considered basic necessities (this will count as money 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 or is fired from a job, they are disqualified for a 120 day period; for willfully making a false representation about their eligibility; for not providing or permitting the administrator to gather necessary verification and documentation as required; as well as others.

Many applications are denied due to missing or incomplete documents or information.  The applicant can reopen the application once the necessary information has been provided.  The best way to avoid this is to make sure you gather the information you are required to provide.