Social Services

The Social Services Division strives to provide quality programs to low-income Portland residents that encourage dignity, self-respect, and self-reliance in the transition from public assistance to self-sufficiency.

​donate to help asylum seekers in portland

We appreciate the requests we receive to help asylum seekers in Portland. Find out how you can help here


General Assistance
The General Assistance Program provides Portland residents with assistance for basic needs such as rent, food, non-food, medication, fuel, utilities, and other essential services. All assistance is granted in voucher form and no cash assistance is granted.

Representative Payee
While most people receive their Social Security and Supplemental Security benefits directly, some are mandated by Social Security Administration to have a Representative Payee to provide assistance in managing their funds. Payee services for consumers receiving Social Security Disability benefits are provided through this program.

Home To Stay
In July 2014, the City was awarded $175,000 in operating costs and $175,000 in housing subsidies for housing individuals and families through the Maine State Housing Authority.

The Home to Stay (HTS) Program is modeled after a rapid re-housing approach that provides housing stability services to persons who are experiencing homelessness. The Home to Stay Program assists homeless clients seeking permanent housing with education, services and support to meet their health, housing, and employment needs in order to overcome barriers to obtaining and maintaining housing. The goal is to help participants achieve permanent stable housing.

Helping Individuals Regain Employment (HIRE) assists General Assistance recipients achieve self-sufficiency. Staff help clients with barriers to employment find jobs through employment case work targeting their needs and referrals to outside agencies, such as English as a Second Language courses for individuals with low English proficiency. Individuals who are unable to work receive help applying for disability benefits.

Portland Opportunity Crew
The Portland Opportunity Crew is a pilot program that offers panhandlers the opportunity to earn money to cleanup public areas and links them with needed services, such as job training and support. Workers will pick up trash and beautify the city's parks and trails, primarily on the peninsula. Program participants will be paid minimum wage, which in Portland is $10.68 an hour, at the end of the shift.

The City's Social Services Division is working with the City's Parks Division to run the program. It operates two days a week for approximately 36 weeks from April/May through November, and on each day up to five people are hired. The City has partnered with Workforce Solutions and People Ready to link participants with additional services such as job training and employment support. Help support the CREW!

Community Resources
911 is of course always an option and citizens are encouraged to call as needed.  However, if people are interested in alternative resources, here is some additional information.

The Oxford Street Shelter, 761-2072: Contact shelter staff anytime to ask questions about homelessness, report issues or provide feedback.  Shelter staff will respond directly or make referrals to appropriate resources.

Milestone HOME Team, 838-8904: The HOME Team is a mobile outreach program that provides transportation, outreach and other services to people struggling with substance use in our community.  

Mobile Crisis, 774-HELP: The Opportunity Alliance operates a 24/7 crisis response team that can be mobile and assist with folks who are having a mental health crisis.

Portland Police Disorder Substance Use Liaison, 756-8231: The Substance Use Disorder Liaison works with the police department to provide outreach, referral to treatment services and other substance use related services.

Mental Health Police Liaison, 874-8575:  The Opportunity Alliance partners with the Portland Police Department by providing a clinically trained Mental Health Liaison for outreach and community response.  If you suspect someone is struggling with mental health issues, call non-emergency dispatch and request the Mental Health Liaison.  They will respond and attempt to assist with crisis intervention and referral to treatment when available.