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Demand For Welfare Services On The Rise In Maine

Maine has seen a spike in people applying for social service benefits in the midst of the pandemic.

According to the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, applications for MaineCare sharply rose in recent weeks. Other welfare programs, including SNAP and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families have also seen more demand.

Chris Hastedt, public policy director for Maine Equal Justice, says those numbers are likely a sign of increasing need for many families in the state who continue to face unemployment. She says if federal lawmakers don’t continue relief benefits at the end of this month, these state programs may prove to be critical.

“Those programs are going to become absolutely vital to people, should Congress not extend the Pandemic Unemployment Insurance, and the Pandemic Emergency Compensation,” she says.

Some local agencies have also begun to report increases in demand for other services, including fuel assistance, this winter.