NORWAY — The General Assistance administrator for Norway, Paris and West Paris said undocumented immigrants seeking assistance are not a problem but she must be diligent in weeding out ineligible applicants.

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services recently notified municipalities that they should stop giving undocumented immigrants General Assistance or forfeit the state reimbursement.

“I’m pretty thorough in assessing people,” said Shannon Moxcey, who has served the three towns since 2012.

General Assistance offers assistance to families and individuals in need of food, rent and utilities. The state reimburses towns 50 percent of what they spend.

For towns such as Norway, which in the past seemed to have attracted needy people in part because of lower rental prices, the assistance had come at a price to taxpayers. But not so much since Moxcey was hired.

Since 2012, General Assistance budgets have dropped dramatically.

In 2012, Norway was paying $101,510 in General Assistance. This past fiscal year, which ended Monday, the budget came in under $15,000.

In Paris during the same time, the budget went from $21,000 to $4,843.

Moxcey said the success has come from mandating that people asking for assistance show proof of residency and income, show an address and they must sign up for Workforce, the state’s job and training program.

“Some don’t meet the requirements,” she said.

She also checks with the police to make sure an applicant does not have any outstanding arrest warrants, something the state Legislature approved last year. She also checks applicants’ Facebook pages.

She has uncovered fraud in both Norway and Paris, she said.

In 2012, for example, Moxcey discovered a man who was receiving benefits from Norway as a homeless person while being listed as a member of a household receiving assistance in Paris.

Also in Paris, a woman who said she was a former resident from Florida attempted to apply for General Assistance in Paris with her partner. Moxcey checked the woman’s Social Security number with the Maine DHHS and was told there was no record, meaning she hadn’t received benefits before.

While that could have been the end of the story, Moxcey said she went a step further and contacted the Department of Human Services in Florida. She was told the woman had been receiving benefits as a resident of the state for the entire year and, Moxcey learned, the woman had also received benefits from Bangor at the same time.

Moxcey denied the couple benefits but not long after she received a call from the General Assistance administrator in Bethel, who reported the woman and her partner tried to apply for benefits there as well.

“I check out people pretty thoroughly,” she said.

[email protected]


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.