“Thursday marks the five-year anniversary of the last time the federal government raised the minimum wage – from $6.55 to $7.25 an hour. The good news is that earlier this year, President Obama proposed to raise the federal minimum wage for contractors to $10.10 an hour.”
“O'Brien is stepping down as the director of the city's Oxford Street Shelter on July 17 to become shelter director for the Pine Street Inn, a Boston nonprofit group that has a men's shelter with more than 300 beds and serves 1,600 homeless people a day in a city with more than 7,000 homeless residents. Pine Street Inn is the largest provider of services to the homeless in New England.”
“Gov. Paul LePage wants to limit state welfare benefits to only those residents living in Maine legally, a move that could force municipalities to drop some recipients or risk losing government funds.”
“As it considers a city-wide minimum wage, Mayor Michael Brennan’s Minimum Wage Advisory Committee is now looking for wage earners to tell their stories on July 16.”
“The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced Thursday $1.25 million in funding for homeless assistance programs in Maine. The funding, part of a $140 million release announced by HUD last week, was divvied among eight programs aiming to put people experiencing homelessness into reliable housing.”
“The Department of Health and Human Services blames short-staffing for a delay in its delivery of supplemental food benefits to eligible low-income Mainers.”
“A long-shot Senate Democratic effort to raise the federal minimum wage seemed all but doomed Tuesday when a moderate Republican lawmaker viewed as a potential supporter said she expects to oppose the measure.”
“Republicans in the Maine Legislature have one last chance this year to deliver on health coverage for the state’s poorest residents.”
“In what would be its largest project to date, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Portland is in the final planning stages for a 13-home, affordable neighborhood on Broadturn Road.”
“Portland’s Planning Board has recommended a zoning change in the city’s East Bayside neighborhood that would allow more high-density development and create more affordable housing.”
“The Washington, D.C.-based Employment Policies Institute plans to bring its fight against raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10, up from $7.25, to Maine through a radio ad campaign this week, according to a press release from the group.”
“The debate over Medicaid expansion has dominated the 126th Legislature, and it will continue to do so as the session winds down and lawmakers prepare to head back to their districts.”
“House Speaker Mark Eves and the Democratic controlled Legislature made a last-ditch effort Thursday to expand Medicaid health coverage to more than 60,000 Mainers.”
“The Maine Legislature failed on Friday in its third attempt to overturn Gov. Paul LePage's veto of a bill that would expand Medicaid coverage to 70,000 low-income residents under the federal health care law — an issue that's certain to play prominently in this year's governor's race.”
“While some of Maine Gov. Paul LePage's proposals to overhaul the state's welfare programs have hit resistance in the Legislature, the administration is pushing forward with a piece of its agenda that it doesn't need lawmakers to sign off on: putting photo identification on benefit cards.”
“In a series of party-line votes Thursday, the Maine House sent a slate of bills aimed at changing or reforming Maine’s welfare system and how state-issued Electronic Benefit Transfer cards could be used to the Senate.”
“Whether Republicans, Democrats or both are serious about reducing fraudulent spending in cash benefit programs for the poor, the discussion in Augusta has devolved into partisan finger-pointing.”
“The state Senate gave final approval Friday to a bill that would expand the state’s Medicaid health care program to more than 60,000 uninsured Mainers and establish a managed care system for the 320,000 current beneficiaries.”
“All eyes are on Republican Gov. Paul LePage after the state Senate on Friday granted final passage to a bill that would expand the state’s Medicaid program to roughly 70,000 low-income Mainers under the auspices of the federal Affordable Care Act.”
“A member of President Barack Obama's administration is traveling to Maine to support a Democratic plan to raise the federal minimum wage.”
“Maine's Democratic-led House gave initial approval Tuesday to a bill to expand Medicaid coverage to low-income residents under the federal health care law, but the bill crafted by two moderate Republican senators will need to garner more support in both chambers to survive a future veto from Republican Gov. Paul LePage.”
“Maine Republicans who are fiercely fighting an effort to expand government-subsidized health care coverage to roughly 70,000 residents have come up with an alternative: government-subsidized health care.”
“As lawmakers have debated whether Maine should extend Medicaid to about 75,000 low-income adults, they’ve done it without the aid of a comprehensive, Maine-specific analysis of the expansion’s costs and benefits.”
“On Wednesday, a great number of people again squeezed into a public hearing room in the Cross State Office Building in Augusta to testify on a bill that would expand Medicaid to about 70,000 Maine residents under the Affordable Care Act. The stories and arguments were similar to last year, when the Legislature passed expansion by a majority but not quite the two-thirds needed to override Gov. Paul LePage’s veto.”
“He was talking about Part 1 of the Alexander Group’s soup-to-nuts study of Maine’s welfare system, also known as LePage’s new, $925,000 weapon (our tax dollars at work) in his administration’s never-ending war on Maine’s poor.”
“A consultant hired by the LePage administration faced withering questions Tuesday from Democratic lawmakers who tried to undermine his report recommending that Maine not expand Medicaid to cover tens of thousands more people.”
“After releasing an initial 131-page report on a potential Medicaid expansion to reporters last week, a controversial consultant hired by Republican Gov. Paul LePage will present those findings to lawmakers on the Health and Human Services Committee on Tuesday.”
“At the time of Johnson's speech, the poverty rate in New England (the federal government did not yet report this data on a state-by-state basis) was just under nine percent. That was about half the national average of 19 percent.”
“Expanding Maine's Medicaid system under the federal health care overhaul would cost an estimated $807 million and add 266,000 people to the state's Medicaid rolls over the first decade, crowding out funding for the elderly and disabled who need it the most, officials said Friday as they revealed results of a study commissioned by Gov. Paul LePage's administration.”
“Gov. Paul LePage released information on Tuesday that he says demonstrates that welfare benefits in Maine are being abused. But the data LePage cited to make his case for abuse represents a tiny fraction of all transactions involving electronic benefits cards issued to the state’s welfare recipients.”
“As the Legislature returns to Augusta this winter, some might suggest an arrangement under which Maine uses federal funds meant to expand Medicaid to instead purchase private insurance for low-income residents.”
“Gov. Paul LePage on Thursday defended his administration's proposals aimed at reducing fraud and abuse in the state's welfare system and pledged to preserve the safety net for those who truly need it.”
“Maine Gov. Paul LePage unveiled renewed GOP efforts to target welfare fraud on Tuesday, proposing measures requiring some welfare recipients to prove they've applied for work and limiting items that can be purchased with electronic benefit transfer cards.”
“The consultant Gov. Paul LePage’s administration has charged with conducting a far-reaching — and controversial — review of Maine’s Medicaid and public welfare programs faces a key deadline in the coming weeks.”
“A new report says the child poverty rate is on the rise in Maine. The annual ‘Kids Count’ report by the Maine Children’s Alliance released Thursday says 19.3 percent of Maine children under the age of 18 lived in poverty in 2011. That’s up more than 1 percent from 2010, but below the national rate of 22 percent.”
“The nation as a whole is making strides toward reducing homelessness but the problem is worsening in Maine, according to statistics released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.”
“Maine's health department will pay nearly $1 million to an outside consultant to evaluate the state's Medicaid program and study whether it should be expanded under the federal health care overhaul, officials said Tuesday.”
“The cost of Maine’s welfare benefits per recipient is relative. The states that rank lowest are low cost-of-living, low-GDP states such as Arkansas, Tennessee, Idaho and Mississippi, while the states that dole out the most generous benefit levels per welfare recipient are wealthy states with the highest costs of living, such as Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey and Hawaii.”
“Among those accepted by the Council are a bill by House Speaker Mark Eves, D-North Berwick, aimed at expanding Medicaid to roughly 70,000 Mainers under a provision of President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Eves’ bill was supported by the six Democrats on the Council, as well as Republican Sen. Roger Katz of Augusta.”
“The House Republican leader said Monday that he expects Democrats will use a technicality to kill his bill requiring Mainers to prove that they have applied for work before they qualify for cash welfare benefits.”
“Gov. Paul LePage is watching closely as Republican governors in other states find ways to expand their Medicaid programs under the Affordable Care Act, but so far LePage is not ready to propose anything that would lead to an expansion in Maine.”
“About 25,000 poor and uninsured Mainers will miss out on health insurance under the Affordable Care Act because the state refused to expand Medicaid, according to a national study released Wednesday by the Kaiser Family Foundation.”
“In addition, opponents state that Maine's poorest will be covered even without the expansion of MaineCare. In fact, on Jan. 1, 2014, 10,000 of the poorest Mainers, those at or below the poverty level, will have their MaineCare coverage dropped with no opportunity to gain coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Another 14,500 Mainers just above the poverty line will also lose coverage.”
“If you listen to Gov. Paul LePage and his Republican allies, they’ll tell you Maine’s economy has turned a corner. Businesses are creating jobs, more people are working and fewer people are living below the poverty threshold. Fewer Mainers are dependent on government programs to get by.”
“Gov. Paul LePage and his conservative allies have spent the last week touting what they say is his successful revamping of Maine’s welfare system.”
“Portland Mayor Michael Brennan and community service providers gathered at Portland City Hall for a news conference Aug. 15 to highlight the city's anti-homelessness agenda and tout some successes in the fight against homelessness in Maine's largest city.”
“Portland is making measurable progress on its effort to bolster support systems for the chronically homeless and place them more quickly in permanent housing, Mayor Michael Brennan said Thursday.”
“Officials in Maine's largest city on Thursday touted ongoing efforts aimed at giving homeless people a hand on the same day an ordinance went into effect banning panhandlers from median strips.”
“Maine is the second-biggest welfare state in the nation. Let that sink in. This state ranks third for the percentage of households on TANF cash welfare, second for food stamps, second for food stamp error rate, and third for Medicaid enrollment. Medicaid has doubled as a share of Maine’s budget during the past 15 years and the Department of Health and Human Services now consumes almost half the budget. Overall, 30.5 percent of the budget is spent on welfare.”
“You can't always tell there are homeless people in a rural Maine town. They aren't panhandling or sleeping on street corners — they fit into the scenery, often staying with friends, in cars or camping. But across Franklin County, there is a growing population of homeless residents, sleeping on couches or living in tents, according to a group of area residents.”
“Many states are gearing up to enroll more residents into Medicaid coverage starting in January. But thousands of Mainers are preparing to lose coverage this winter because of changes to the state's program and the decision not to expand coverage under the federal health care overhaul.”
“Roadside panhandlers who seek money from motorists will have to move elsewhere following the City Council’s unanimous approval of a measure that bans panhandling by people standing on traffic islands.”
“After hearing public testimony from nearly two dozen residents, the City Council on Monday night unanimously voted into law a ban on loitering in street medians — a measure critics have said is a thinly disguised attempt to stamp out panhandling in the city.”
“Saying he’s not waiting for someone to get killed, Portland Police Chief Michael Sauschuck and the city’s Public Safety Committee are, for a second time, asking the City Council to pass an ordinance making it illegal for anyone to stand on a median strip. In July 2012 the council said no to that same request. Since then, ‘there’s been an absolute explosion’ of panhandling from medians, Sauschuck said.”
“Among the business facing the Legislature when it convenes on Tuesday will be 21 new vetoes Gov. Paul LePage issued Monday afternoon and evening, including one of a bill that aimed to increase the state’s minimum wage.”
“Fredette floated the study group proposal last month, suggesting the group should look into spending federal Medicaid dollars to purchase commercial health insurance for low-income residents who would otherwise qualify for traditional Medicaid coverage. Some additional commercial coverage options will become available later this year through the federal health law’s insurance exchanges.”
“Jacobsohn, of Augusta, falls into a category of about 10,500 childless adults who earn up to 100 percent of the federal poverty level. Medicaid expansion would have covered an additional 60,000 or so adults in Maine, with the federal government reimbursing the state the cost of the expansion 100 percent for three years. Adults in Jacobsohn's situation -- those who make less than $11,710 per year -- are being kicked off MaineCare at the end of 2013 because the state approved Medicaid cutbacks in 2011.”
“In two votes Wednesday, the Maine House fell short of overriding Gov. Paul LePage’s veto of a bill calling for the state to expand eligibility for Medicaid, the state-federal low-income health insurance program, as allowed by the federal Affordable Care Act.”
“Maine Gov. Paul LePage on Monday vetoed a bill to accept federal dollars to expand health care coverage to 70,000 more Mainers, saying he fears the state will ultimately bear the financial burden for the new enrollees. The Democratic-controlled Legislature last week approved a retooled proposal to expand Medicaid coverage under the federal health care overhaul, cutting off the state's participation in the program off after three years in an effort to make it more appealing to Republicans.”
“Gov. Paul LePage vetoed a Medicaid-expansion bill late Monday, taking an expected step that's sure to increase tension with Maine's legislative session due to end this week. In a prepared statement, House Speaker Mark Eves, D-North Berwick, called the veto ‘senseless,’ saying LePage ‘made it clear that he will do whatever it takes to deny and delay health care to tens of thousands of Mainers.’”
“The Maine House has approved a bill to expand the state's Medicaid program — MaineCare — to include about 70,000 more people, a key component of the national Affordable Care Act. The expansion would increase eligibility to childless adults who earn less than 133 percent of the federal poverty guideline — just over $15,000 a year. Representatives voted 89-51 in favor of the bill Monday, adding changes to address worries of Republicans who've opposed expansion.”
“Removing panhandlers from intersections might make the roads into Portland look a little better to some people, but it won't create jobs or build affordable housing. It won't pay for mental health services or substance abuse treatment. It won't provide quality child care or early education programs. Drivers on Portland's streets are right to be frustrated, but it's not the people with hand-made signs who have created the problem. If the City Council is going to have a response to this crisis, it should keep doing what it can to address the sources of this problem, not just the symptoms.”
“The time people spend in the homeless shelters in Maine, however, has increased. The average number of bed nights in shelters in Maine increased from 31.6 to 42.1 between 2008 and 2012, according to data from the Maine State Housing Authority.”
“For the third time in a week, Democrats in the Legislature prevailed Monday on a vote to link an expansion of Medicaid eligibility in Maine to a plan to repay the state’s Medicaid debt to its 39 hospitals.”
“The bill’s greatest value is that it recognizes that parents seeking public assistance are individuals with unique needs, not a static class of people. As Gov. Paul LePage continues to demonize and depersonalize ‘welfare,’ Eves’ bill represents a humane, realistic step toward combating stigmatizing stereotypes that too often frame political debate about welfare reform.”
“Democrats in the Legislature continued their push Wednesday for an expansion of publicly funded health insurance for low-income Mainers and moved to link the expansion with Gov. Paul LePage's plan to pay hospitals about $484 million in outstanding Medicaid reimbursements.”
“At issue is an error in the text of the Affordable Care Act that would qualify about 48,000 low-income parents and adults without children for federal help to purchase private health insurance if Maine opts not to expand Medicaid. Those 48,000 residents would otherwise be eligible for Medicaid if the state expands its low-income health insurance program.”
“The so-called ‘ticket to work’ bill also directs the Department of Health and Human Services to identify education and other programs recipients need for job placement.”
“Nearly two years after homelessness was first identified as a priority, an offshoot of the Washington County Food and Fuel Alliance has found a possible location for a homeless shelter, the first to serve non-tribal members in the county.”
“Silvernail has led research on the topic of how schools can succeed despite poverty in the community or loss of funds. He said he viewed LePage's grading system as flawed because it didn't take into account funding levels, not that he thinks any school should be excused from excellence on that basis. Instead, he said measuring a school's efficiency, rather than just test scores and student achievement, would be more indicative of a school's performance.”
“The department says the goal is to provide a tool parents and community members can use to hold schools accountable for explaining academic performance, but that is already happening. The result is more likely to be that schools, largely from lower-income areas, are simply shamed. The grading system was not created with buy-in from districts.”
“I am appalled that the social safety net that protects Emily and others with similar challenges has been stretched to the breaking point. In a state budget that spends over $6 billion per biennium, why in the world are we even considering a line-item budget cut of $170,000 for a program that serves Maine's most vulnerable citizens?”
“Sponsored by the Internal Revenue Service, the free service assists low-income families and the elderly sort out potentially baffling rules and exceptions to rules associated with what’s owed and what’s not.”
“Nearly 770 people took to the streets Saturday to help raise funds for the Bangor Area Homeless Shelter, which given the state of the economy and cuts in state and federal aid could use the support.”
“If independent Portland lawmaker Ben Chipman’s proposed legislation passes, college tuition could be covered for high-achieving Maine high schoolers living in poverty.”
“Rising homeless populations, uncertain budgets and a sharp decrease in community contributions have officials at Maine shelters pondering how to improve the situation and lessen demand for their services.”
“The act requires states -- regardless of whether they extend Medicaid eligibility -- to have health care exchanges, where people can shop for insurance policies. People earning 100 to 400 percent of the federal poverty level will be eligible for federally funded tax credits to help them pay for the coverage. But those with incomes less than 100 percent of the poverty level are not eligible for the credits. That could leave able-bodied adults, without children, with no coverage if Maine does not expand Medicaid eligibility to include them.”
“Maine’s governor, Republican Paul LePage, has dialed back his staunch opposition to Medicaid expansion and entered discussions with the Obama administration over the possibility of accepting billions in federal funding to provide health insurance for more of the state’s low-income residents.”
“There is one simple answer that I can provide for them: With an expansion of Medicaid (fully funded by the feds for three years and 90 percent funded after that), charity care will decrease and people with insurance will see rate relief. Providing insurance for people living in or near poverty will reduce emergency room use and dramatically reduce charity care.”
“We agree with Beaudoin that Maine shouldn’t be awarding public funds to people who use them to buy illegal drugs, but her statement that welfare recipients ‘need to be drug-tested just like everybody else’ isn’t true. Government doles out money to a wide variety of groups — including student loan and scholarship recipients, contractors and business grant recipients — without requiring that they pass a drug test.”
“For Maine, the decision is more complicated than in most states, said Jeff Austin, vice president of government affairs and communications for the Maine Hospital Association. That's because Maine is one of a handful of states that have already extended Medicaid coverage to many of the people who would otherwise be eligible for the first time under the Affordable Care Act.”
“Lawmakers this session once again will debate whether recipients of state and local welfare benefits should be subject to drug testing. And this time, a Democrat is bringing forward the proposal, which is more likely to prove popular with Republicans.”
“Too often, Daughtry said, legislative sessions bring many ideas that are ‘bright shiny toys’ -- educational initiatives that are exciting but lack funding or take money from bread-and-butter needs at the district level.”
“An advocacy group that represents low-income Mainers has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in U.S. District Court seeking to block Medicaid cuts for elderly and disabled recipients scheduled to take effect March 1.”
“Behind Freeport’s image as an affluent coastal town, an increasing number of residents are turning to community social services for help with basic needs. And as the gulf between rich and poor grows, fewer people who work in town are able to afford living there.”
“We all benefit from government welfare programs. In fact, it’s right there in the preamble to The Constitution: ‘Promote the general welfare.’ There is no such thing as a self-made man or woman in this country. If you live in the United States, it would be nearly impossible to not benefit from government handouts paid for by the taxpayers.”
“Focusing on boosting the quality of the state's patchwork early learning programs and eliminating duplication and inefficiencies should be paired with a wider effort to expand children's access to care. We -- as a company and as parents, siblings, neighbors -- cannot emphasize enough the importance of investing in quality preschool, child care and programs that help parents, particularly those living at or near the poverty line, to become stronger caregivers.”
“How can Maine reduce the number of residents receiving government assistance and help them out of poverty? It can improve pathways to work, especially for people with physical and learning disabilities. Improving access to work requires increased collaboration among government agencies and the private sector. And Maine can learn from successful initiatives where businesses have made large, focused efforts to train and hire workers with disabilities and seen productivity increases among all employees.”
“House Speaker Mark Eves announced Thursday that he has submitted his first major legislative initiative, a bill designed to ensure that welfare recipients are ready for the workforce. The bill will test the Democratic speaker's ability to gain support from Republicans and Gov. Paul LePage. Republicans have called for reductions and changes to the state's welfare programs, often arguing that the programs are too generous and don't create incentives for recipients to find work.”
“Proponents of a federally funded health clinic for low-income residents say the need for one still exists in Knox County, although one of them acknowledged that changes made by local physician practices have helped patients.”
“Bringing together businesses, schools and other partners in the Sebago Lake area, the consortium increased access of low-income residents to healthier foods by making it possible for them to use food stamps at farmers markets and delivering local produce to food pantries. Another component of its focus on behavior change broadened access for low-income community members to eight exercise facilities that they otherwise could not afford to use.”
“A bill sponsored by Maine's House speaker proposes steps to move welfare recipients to jobs. Speaker Mark Eves, D-North Berwick, announced on Thursday his ‘Ticket to Work’ bill, which would ensure that Temporary Assistance For Needy Families recipients receive the tools and training necessary to enter the workforce and secure long-term employment.”
“LePage's first two-year budget, introduced two years ago, targeted the state's welfare programs more heavily. It allowed the state to cut off food stamps, or TANF benefits, to drug felons convicted within the past 20 years who failed a series of drug tests. The state, however, hasn't implemented that provision of the budget, citing potential implementation costs and the potential that courts won't allow drug testing as a condition for receiving welfare benefits. Apart from the budget proposal, the LePage administration is proposing to prohibit convicted drug felons from receiving TANF benefits.”
“The Obama administration rejected LePage's plan to cut Medicaid for low-income 19- and 20-year-olds and parents who earn 100 percent to 133 percent of the federal poverty level. Federal officials did approve a request to eliminate coverage for 12,592 parents who earn 133 percent to 200 percent of the federal poverty level -- $30,657 to $46,100 a year for a family of four. This approval was expected because the Affordable Care Act allows states with budget deficits to discontinue Medicaid coverage of adults earning more than 133 percent of poverty level if they aren't pregnant or disabled.”
“Since its inception, the project's ongoing, first-phase effort has provided 13,000 learning hours to Washington County residents, including targeted groups of lobstermen, wild blueberry farmers and health care workers. Free classes have covered basic computer skills, Microsoft programs and social media skills. They've been held at locations throughout the 2,568 square miles that make up Washington County, which is struggling with limited economic activity, 9.4 percent unemployment and the state's highest poverty rate.”
“The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on Monday notified state officials that they can cut some low-income parents and caretakers from Maine's Medicaid rolls and scale back Medicaid access for some residents who also qualify for Medicare benefits.”
“Maine's TANF benefits offer no incentive for someone to move to the state. For a family of three -- usually a mom with two young children -- Maine's monthly TANF amount is just $485 per month, or about $16 per day to support a family. That's the lowest amount in New England and it hasn't changed since 2001, despite substantial increases in the cost of living. The amount isn't enough to lift people out of poverty, but instead acts as a temporary bridge as families work toward greater stability and financial security.”
“LIHEAP benefits, used to supplement fuel budgets for low-income households, are usually distributed through community action agencies to fuel vendors on behalf of certified clients. By this time last year, MSHA distributed $7.8 million to 24,990 households across the state. Winsor said the organization has already distributed aid to 2,421 clients in Oxford and Androscoggin counties and 2,645 households have been certified eligible for the program.”
“Recent changes to building standards and the way low- income housing projects are ranked by the Maine State Housing Authority for federal tax credits appear to be driving down development costs, state Treasurer Bruce Poliquin said.”
“Teachers and education technicians, after-school enrichment programs, preschool for low-income children and vocational training for people with disabilities -- all are at risk if Congress and the White House can't agree on taxes and spending.”
“This year the state not only showed no interest in expanding Medicaid under a key provision of the law, it took steps to shrink the rolls of the state- federal health insurance program for the poor, leaving thousands without coverage. In September, the state sued the federal government to reduce the program further, arguing a provision in the law barring states from making it harder for people to qualify was invalid.”
“The proposed cuts would affect 36,000 low-income people, eliminating coverage for 19- and 20-year-olds, tightening income eligibility requirements for low-income parents and scaling back Medicaid access for elderly residents who also qualify for Medicare benefits.”
“For their work, the women will receive $5 per wreath, said Beth Taylor, H.O.M.E. board member. The wreath-makers are either unemployed or underemployed, and the seasonal craft work supplies them and their families with income used to provide food and gifts at holiday time, and fuel for keeping warm during the deep cold of January and February, she said.”
“Nationally, the Stand Down was conceived by two Vietnam War veterans as a safe retreat for units returning from combat operations. Over the years it has evolved into a clearinghouse of services for veterans, ranging from medical and dental checkups to providing warm winter coats and boots. This year, more than 76,000 homeless veterans were expected to participate in the ‘hand up, not hand out’ event.”
“Independent Angus King and Democrat Cynthia Dill told members of Portland's homeless community Thursday that they want to improve access to affordable housing and protect the social safety net. Both criticized their Republican rival in Maine's U.S. Senate race, Charlie Summers, for not attending the forum on poverty and homelessness.”
“The opening of the new Mid Maine Homeless Shelter on Monday morning is a major step in helping to end the growing problem of homelessness in the Waterville area, said Betty Palmer, executive director of the shelter.”
“A new 60-month limit on eligibility for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefits adds an element of urgency to welfare reform in Maine. The benefits cap has triggered a reduction of more than 3,000 households from Maine's TANF caseload since January. It is expected to yield $2.5 million in state biennial budget savings.”
“The Susan L. Curtis Charitable Foundation, which operates Camp Susan Curtis (CSC), has received a $1,500 grant from the Oxford County Fund of the Maine Community Foundation to develop critical 21st century competencies, necessary for success in school and life, for 500 low-income Maine children each summer, including more than 100 from Oxford County.”
“A task force that studied homelessness in Portland over the past year is urging local stakeholders to summon the political will to fund the construction of 105 more specialized housing units for the homeless, according to its draft report.”
“The national network of Educare schools -- which includes Educare Central Maine -- was highlighted on NBC's Education Nation on Monday as an innovative education program that is demonstrating success in preparing low-income children for kindergarten.”
“For that reason, the responsibility to promote literacy in Maine extends beyond the K-12 education system to programs such as Head Start, which provides a framework to introduce rudimentary literacy skills to children from low-income families. In addition to advocating that resources allocated to Head Start adequately reflect new demands for early literacy training, the Department of Education, through initiatives like ‘Literacy for ME,’ can provide an organizational structure and repository for resources. But -- as the report makes clear -- the effort requires broad community participation.”
“New numbers released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau suggest Maine struggled through a stagnant economy in 2011, showing a decline in median household income and an increase in the number of people living below the poverty line. Maine's median household income in 2011 decreased 2.2 percent, from $47,069 in 2010 to $46,033, according to 2011 estimates from the American Community Survey, an annual nationwide survey that provides demographic data between the decennial census reports.”
“Poverty, high oil prices, limited fuel assistance and a cold winter could converge to create a long winter of discontent for low-income residents of Washington County. Maine's easternmost county has a poverty rate of 19.4 percent -- nearly one person in five living below the federal poverty level.”
“It's been two decades since H.O.M.E. Inc. of Orland opened the Emmaus Homeless Shelter in the former federal building at the corner of Main and Water streets. The shelter houses 350 people in its 25 beds each year, said Sister Lucille MacDonald, Emmaus' director. It assists another 20,000 people annually with its programs to provide food, clothing, backpacks and school supplies, houseware, furniture and more.”
“Sen. Olympia Snowe said Thursday the continuing resolution Congress will vote on to keep the U.S. government funded for the next six months has language in it that keeps funding for low-income heating assistance at last year's levels, a development she said was encouraging for families who rely on the funds to pay their heating bills.”
“The state will face an estimated $20 million budget shortfall if federal officials don't sign off on plans to reduce state Medicaid spending. Lawmakers Friday pressed the state's Medicaid director for answers on how the state Department of Health and Human Services will fill the potential budget gap if cuts to the state's Medicaid program are rejected by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The state Medicaid cuts in question would affect 36,000 people by eliminating coverage for 19- and 20-year-olds, tightening income eligibility requirements for low-income parents and scaling back Medicaid access for elderly residents who also qualify for Medicare benefits.”
“The state cuts would affect coverage for 36,000 low-income people, eliminating coverage for 19- and 20-year-olds, tightening income eligibility requirements for low-income parents and scaling back Medicaid access for elderly residents who also qualify for Medicare benefits.”
“State administrators of the federal Low Income Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP, say funding for the program is expected to decrease this year. That combined with rising fuel prices, which have nearly doubled in Maine since 2004, and a continually stagnant economy will mean an increased gap between fuel needs and available help, the administrators say.”
“If Maine wants to improve its economy and decrease the number of people living in poverty, it should invest in something that will draw a return: its children. Providing early childhood programs for low-income working families benefits not just children and parents but ultimately their communities.”
“Homelessness has many complicating factors, but its roots are in poverty. As people across Maine continue to search for better ways to prevent and end homelessness, let's frame the conversation that way: Homelessness is a result, not a condition.”
“Poverty levels not seen in Maine and the rest of the United States in nearly 50 years illuminate a deep-seated economic problem that extends far beyond the scope of social welfare programs. Jobs, not government benefits and tax breaks, will do the most to keep middle-class Americans from plunging into poverty.”
“Mr. LePage wants to eliminate Medicaid coverage for nearly 15,000 parents with incomes that fall between the federal poverty level ($23,050 for a family of four) and 133 percent of that level ($30,657 for a family of four). He is also planning to remove from the rolls about 6,150 19- and 20-year-olds with incomes up to 150 percent of the poverty level, and to tighten eligibility limits in programs that help elderly and disabled people pay for prescription drugs and health care.”
"Samantha Garvey, who was living in a homeless shelter with her family when she was named a semifinalist in the national Intel science talent search early this year, is packing up and heading for Maine."
"Deep cuts to Maine's social services are set to take effect in just a few weeks, including some that hinge on an imminent U.S. Supreme Court decision over the fate of the nation's landmark health reform law."
"There is, of course, simple poverty. Giving children life and learning opportunities takes money. Everything, including youth sports, travel, summer camps and tutors, requires discretionary income women living in poverty are less likely to have"
"Two state lawmakers are taking the Maine Department of Education to task for rescinding nearly $1 million in grant money that had been awarded to four districts, a decision one local school official said tarnishes the department's credibility."
"Targeted for cuts are the Head Start program, child care subsidies for parents who are either working or continuing their education and funding for home visits for children in low-income families."
"Those who attend the auction may choose to donate personal care items such as deodorant, toothpaste, soap, razors and shampoo that will be given to those seeking shelter at Hope House. The auction, organizers said, plays an important part in the facility's ability to continue to serve the needs of the Bangor area homeless population."
"There are 130 million Americans who have no dental insurance. One-fourth of adults age 65 or older have lost all their teeth. Only 45 percent of Americans age 2 and older had a dental visit in the last 12 months, and more than 16 million low-income children go each year without seeing a dentist."
"A key legislative committee has reached agreement on $120 million in cuts to the state budget members say will preserve health care for thousands of low-income Maine residents."
"Advocates for low-income Mainers are presenting a report that highlights the impact of poverty on children, families and seniors. The Maine Community Action Association released its annual Poverty Report Update on Thursday. The report was prepared by the Margaret Chase Smith Center at the University of Maine. The report highlights newly released county-by-county poverty data from the 2010 U.S. Census."
"A new report says that investing in quality child care and education will produce a well-trained work force down the road."
"Ms. Hodges and her two teenage daughters qualified for federal heating assistance last year, but their luck might have run out. President Obama has proposed sharply cutting the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, and Maine is at this point expecting less than half of the $55.6 million that it received last winter, even as more people are applying."
"One in eight Mainers lived below the poverty line in 2010, according to recently released U.S. census data. Maine's poverty rate hit 12.5 percent in 2010, up from 11.4 percent the year before."
"One in eight Mainers lived below the poverty line in 2010, according to recently released U.S. census data. Maine's poverty rate hit 12.5 percent in 2010, up from 11.4 percent the year before."
"November is Homeless Awareness Month, and Roberts and other volunteers set a goal to raise $10,000 for the homeless shelter in 30 days. Colby staff, students, businesses and campus organizations are helping raise money through a month-long schedule of activities."
"The number of low-income and Hispanic students continues to grow in Maine Township High School District 207 even though overall enrollment has slightly declined, according to a demographics report released this month."
"Advocates for the homeless are inviting the 15 candidates for Portland mayor to a soup kitchen for a forum."
"New census figures released on Thursday revealed that roughly one in four Maine and U.S. children from birth to age 5 live below the poverty level, which is $18,300 for a family of three. Infants and toddlers are twice as likely to live in poverty as adults."
"Maine's $6 billion, two-year budget books nearly $17 million in savings in the next fiscal year on the assumption that the state will be deemed compliant and get more federal money.
MaineCare is the state's version of the federal Medicaid program, which provides health insurance to low-income people."
"The latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau confirm that more Mainers were unemployed or underemployed, living in poverty and relying on public assistance in 2010 than in any of the previous four years."
"New US census figures show more Mainers living in poverty, but fewer lacking health insurance. Figures released yesterday and based on the 2010 Census show about 161,000 Mainers lived in poverty. The poverty rate of 12.5 percent was up from 11.4 percent in 2009. Maine's 2010 poverty rate was still lower than that national rate of 15.1 percent."