Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Give us your poor...and make us all poorer.

Lewiston, Maine hit the news a bunch of years back when an influx of Somali refugees started taking up residence in significant numbers. Soon the town found itself to be one of the primary destinations of Somali immigrants throughout the country. As I recall, the influx was so great that it nearly bankrupted the town.

Since then, the immigration continues to the tune of an estimated 25 to 30 newcomers per month. The total of Somalis residing in Lewiston is now about 4,000. That’s a whopping 11% of the total population of that town.

I just wanted to provide a bit of background for this next news item:

The city’s population figures are not virtual counts of residents as they move in since there is no reporting requirement for residents, immigrants or otherwise, but are estimations based on general assistance applications. City officials make assumptions of population based on GA numbers, but the estimations correlate pretty well with new students in city schools, Nadaeau said, so he’s pretty sure the figures are close to real counts.
You read that correctly. The determination and estimation of Somali residents in Lewiston, Maine is based on the number of applications for General Assistance, and the numbers correspond well to the actual numbers. How sad is that?

In short...Local, State, and Federal General Assistance seems to be a necessity to each of the newcomers. The local government pays for half of the General Assistance benefits, and the State pays the other half...unless the total paid hits a figure which would trigger the State of Maine paying up to 90%. I'll let you guess where the local government and the State get the cash.