Trustee’s Office Assistance – Serving your needs with dignity and respect

What Does A Trustee Do?

The trustee is assisted in their duties by an elected board and an appointed staff. The Township Trustee is an elected official who is the “Overseer of the Poor” within their township.

A trustee is responsible for assisting those who are having difficulty meeting their basic necessities and reside in their township only. Rules and procedures my vary between townships.

Who Is Eligible for Trustee Help?

There are three (3) rules of thumb concerning trustee assistance:

  • Apply within the township where you live.
  • Be in need of essentials of life.
  • Be willing to help yourself as much as possible.

What About The Residency Requirement?

A person does not need to have lived in the township for any particular length of time, however the person must have established themselves as a permanent resident of the township. To make this determination, the trustee will consider if the individual has done the following: secure permanent housing in the township, obtain employment in the township, and/or paid taxes in the township. A traveler stranded in the township may apply for assistance as a transient with or without the assistance of the local police or county sheriff’s department.

How Is Need Determined?

A person or family is in need if there is not enough income or resources to provide the basic necessities of life. Necessities of life include: food, shelter, utilities, medical, household supplies, clothing, and basic needs.

Household qualification is determined by the trustee or staff based on written standards adopted by the township.

How Do I Apply for Trustee Assistance?

In most cases, you will need to phone the trustee’s office to schedule an appointment. Some townships accept walk-ins, but most prefer or require an appointment.

You must be interviewed after you have filled out the application form. The application is a legal affidavit and you must state your situation as accurately and completely as you can. Applications are signed by all adult members of the household and are valid for 180 days. There are criminal penalties for deliberately giving false information.

What Should I Bring In When I Come To Apply?

You should bring any papers which help explain your situation.

For example, your rent or house payment receipt will show you where you live, how much your rent or house payment is, to whom you make your payments, etc. You should also bring receipts for any money you have spent for at least the past thirty (30) days. This will help show how you have spent your money.

To show what your income has been, bring check stubs or statements from any person or agency helping you. Bringing as much proof as you can about your situation can help speed up the application process. The trustee, by law, may request your permission to verify (by phone or mail) any information you give during your application.

If you are asking for help with utilities, bring the latest bills with you. If you are presently receiving TANF, bring the most recent Certificate of Action from your caseworker.

The trustee may require additional documentation depending on a household’s situation.

What Happens After The Application?

If you have an immediate need, such as food or prescriptions, the trustee can give help the same day. In some situations, it will be necessary to make a home visit before assistance can be granted. You may be asked to bring in additional information before a decision can be made. In most cases, a determination can be made within three (3) business days, not including weekends or holidays.

Once a trustee determines your eligibility, you will be given a “Notice of Action” which is a written statement of the decision and the reason for it.

What If The Trustee Denies Assistance?

You can appeal within fifteen (15) days. The “Notice of Action”, which gives the reasons you were denied, also tells you how to appeal with the Country Commissioners. The Board of County Commissioners will set a time to hear your side of the story and the trustee’s. Then they will make a decision. They are bound to use the same set of guidelines that the trustee does. You can bring documents and witnesses to the hearing to help prove your case. You can be represented by legal counsel or anyone you choose.

Can I Get Trustee Assistance More Than Once?

Yes, the trustee’s assistance can continue as long as your needs exist, IF you continue to try to help yourself by seeking employment and/or other forms of assistance. However, eligibility is determined each time a request is made. For instance, each month that you need rent assistance, a request must be made with the trustee, completing the “Application for Continuing of Additional Assistance”; once again verifying your income and expenses since the last request.

What Kind Of Assistance Can The Trustee Provide?

Specifically, the trustee can meet the following basic needs:

Clothing- necessary for employment, school, or ordinary decency.

Food- for households not receiving food stamps. The trustee will not supplement food stamps except in specific emergencies: theft, spoilage, health needs.

Household Supplies– cleaning and hygiene items.

Medical Assistance- not otherwise provided by insurance, clinics, and HIP.

Shelter- rental payments not to exceed established schedule (if specified in the township assistance standards). The landlord or property owner does not have to accept trustee payment. The trustee will not pay for housing that is unfit. The trustee can assist in emergency relocation.

Utilities- bills in the current name of the applicant for the current residence. Apply for utility assistance as soon as you realize you are unable to pay your bills- do not wait until the bills are delinquent or service is disconnected.

Other services- burials and transportation to seek and/or maintain employment.

What Is The Person Applying For/Receiving Trustee Assistance Expected To Do?

The Work Requirement:

By law, the trustee must require any able-bodied, unemployed member of a household receiving assistance to seek and accept employment, unless:

  • Disabled
  • Under age 18 or over 65
  • Needed to care for another person
  • Employment would violate fair labor standards or the law
  • The trustee may require proof of your inability to work, such as a doctor’s statement.

Other self-help requirements:

Any member of the household receiving assistance is required to apply for other forms of aid if it might help the household meet basic needs. Examples of other forms of assistance are:

  • Food Stamps
  • TANF
  • Social Security
  • SSI
  • Unemployment
  • Veteran’s Benefits
  • Medicaid
  • Medicare
  • The recipient must cooperate with the trustee’s office in getting necessary papers signed. For instance, in order for the trustee to pay rent, the person receiving help must sign a “voucher” to go to the landlord. Failure to cooperate with the trustee could result in denial or termination of assistance.

    If you are unemployed but able to work, you may be assigned to a workfare project. The work you perform will help pay for the aid you receive. For many, workfare has been a major step on the road to a job in the private sector.

    How Does The Trustee Provide Aid?

    The trustee issues vouchers, never cash, to pay for the goods and services which they provide. A voucher is not money, but is a written promise that the trustee will pay money to the company or person who provides the aid.

    Depending on which trustee’s office you go to, if you need food, the trustee may give you a food voucher to take to a grocery store. The voucher is good only if you take it to that particular store. The grocery takes the voucher in exchange for the food you select. You will receive no change if you use less than the full amount of your voucher. Then the store turns the voucher back in to the trustee and the grocery store is paid the amount on the voucher.

    Some trustee’s office do not supply food vouchers and instead have a food pantry.

    I’m A Landlord and I Have A Tenant In Need Who Is Unable To Pay Rent

    The trustee can help IF the tenant qualifies for assistance. You can refer the tenant to the trustee’s office to make an application. If eligible, the recipient will sign a voucher for the rent. This voucher will be sent to you for your signature and should be returned to this office immediately. A check will be forwarded to you, normally within four (4) weeks. Any questions about rent vouchers may be directed to the Trustee.

    How Do I Find Out More About The Trustee’s Practices and Procedures?

    The trustee is an elected official, and like all officials, is governed by laws and standards. Most of the laws are in Indiana Code 12-20-1-1 and following. The trustee has adopted a set of standards to give more detail about eligibility and office procedures. The Township Assistance Standards are available for anyone to see at the Trustee’s Office.