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. Financial eligibility specialists work actively with applicants to ensure that appropriate in-house and outside community referrals are made to other support services. View our presentation for more information.

It is our pleasure to welcome clients back inside at our new location at 39 Forest Avenue! Masks are required to be worn at all times while inside the building and free masks will be provided at entry to those who need them. While clients have been welcomed back inside, staff are still able to assist clients over the phone.

What to Bring to the Interview

Applicants must provide proof of identification for themselves and all household members (i.e. driver’s license, birth certificate, social security card, etc.). Proof of all household income must also be provided. Income and financial resources are not limited to net wages from jobs. Additional income sources include:
  • Cash on hand
  • Income tax refunds
  • Unemployment benefits
  • Child support benefits
  • TANF benefits
  • Social Security Benefits
  • SSI / SSDI Disability benefits
  • Checking / Savings
  • Veteran’s pensions
  • Rental income
  • Loans
  • Worker’s compensation
  • Savings bonds
  • Trust funds annuity
  • Life insurance policies
  • Retirement accounts
  • School loans
  • Financial resources
  • Car / Recreational vehicles
  • Real estate holdings


With the exception of “first-time” applicants, anyone applying for General Assistance must document their use of income. Current receipts showing how income has been spent are required. Only receipts for basic necessities are considered allowed expenses, which include but are not limited to food, rent, utilities, oil, medication, and work related expenses. If payment of a utility bill is requested, the applicant must provide the entire bill or disconnect notice. Bills are only paid if they are in the applicant’s name. Individuals may be able to receive General Assistance while receiving other forms of public assistance, such as federal food stamps, SSI, and TANF. First time applications may take up to 45 minutes. It is recommended that you apply for assistance during the morning hours.

Fair Hearing Officer

One fair hearing officer is scheduled to a case and attends hearings on an as-needed basis. The fair hearing officer is charged with the review of any dissatisfaction stemming from any action concerning applicants for the General Assistance program.

Decisions must be in accordance with applicable state laws and city ordinances. The fair hearing officer is required to render a written decision regarding the outcome of a hearing within five working days.

Eligibility: these positions are appointed by the Portland City Council. To qualify as a fair hearing officer, applicants must have the ability to conduct hearings with a five-day notice have the ability to be fair, impartial, unbiased, and have no personal or financial interest, direct or indirect, in the hearing or its outcome.


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.


General Assistance law requires that able-bodied individuals participate in a municipal work program as a condition of receiving financial assistance. This program offers realistic work opportunities in various city departments. The goal is to encourage employment and self-sufficiency.

Items not considered basic necessities:
  • Phone bill
  • Cable television
  • Mail orders
  • Vehicle payments
  • Credit card debts
  • Furniture
  • Loan payments
  • Cigarettes
  • Alcohol
  • Vacation costs
  • Pet care costs
  • Legal fees
  • Late fees
  • Key deposits

Tenant Based Rental Assistance

The City of Portland Home Programs Tenant Based Rental Assistance (TBRA) funding will allow the Social Services Division to utilize funds to pay for security deposits and short term rental assistance for individuals and families residing in homeless shelters. Program oversight and daily operations will be based out of the City of Portland’s Social Services Division. There will be a centralized intake with a single point of contact located at the Oxford Street Shelter and Family Shelter, utilization of a rapid re-housing approach with a particular focus on reducing recidivism; as such clients will be assigned a case manager to provide follow-up care services. Follow-up service provided by the Home To Stay Program will connect clients to other mainstream resources to ensure successful outcomes.