A new law in Maine may help homeless receive public assistance in their hometowns.
The Portland Press Herald reports the law allows residents to get assistance without being forced to go to Portland and neighboring communities that operate emergency shelters.
The law provides a broad definition of homelessness and declares it an emergency at any time of year.
Supporters of the legislation hope this will lead to more assistance being available for Maine communities.
The law is a response to the overflowing shelters in Portland. Democratic Sen. Ben Chipman, who sponsored the legislation, says he expects the law to have "measurable impact."
But the head of Maine Welfare Directors Association expects little change because the small towns in the state lack housing or hotels even for those who qualify.