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.

For the safety of the public, our 196 Lancaster street location will be closed to public entry until further notice. The window under our awning to the left of the office entrance is open for clients to drop off documents and our staff will continue to assist clients over the phone and through the mail.

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.


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