Portland Officials Blast State Over General Assistance Issue

Feb 27, 2015

PORTLAND, Maine - Several of Portland's elected officials teamed up with advocates for the homeless this morning to criticize state officials for a failure to communicate over the issue of General Assistance.

A recent state audit accused the city of effectively wasting GA funds, after finding that a number of homeless shelter residents had more than $20,000 in the bank.

Homeless advocates say these are all long-term shelter residents with severe mental health problems who should not be turned away.

And Portland mayor Michael Brennan says the City Council has been ready and willing for some time to discuss the issue with Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew, but "never once did she or her staff call and say 'Why is your spending in General Assistance going the way that it's going?' " Brennan said.

Speaking to MPBN earlier this week, Commissioner Mayhew said the GA program is meant to be a temporary assistance measure that requires eligibility to be determined every 30 days.