|Matching funds available:||Yes|
The homeless men and women assisted by the Homeless Action Center (HAC) are overwhelmingly poor, mentally ill, sick and marginalized. They cannot hold jobs. They are clearly eligible for the social safety net programs that exist to meet the basic needs of all Americans down on their luck. Food stamps provide nourishment for the body. Medi-Cal puts medical and mental health treatment within reach. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) provides modest, but stable, monthly cash support. It pays the equivalent of less than $5.65 per hour for full-time employment, which is enough to qualify for permanent supportive housing.
These programs have existed for years, but the application process is cumbersome, even adversarial. HAC's free legal assistance makes it possible for homeless men and women to overcome bureaucratic hurdles and complicated red tape. With HAC's help, they successfully navigate the maze of social safety net programs that provide a pathway out of homelessness.
HAC recently won an SSI case for a homeless client with severe mental illness. Our attorney fought the case for three years! The client was so disillusioned at the beginning he did not even want to apply. Now he will get three years of retroactive benefits and is guaranteed health care!
HAC serves clients throughout Alameda County. We have one office in Berkeley, one office in the Oakland civic center area and a new office in West Oakland. In 2016, HAC provided assistance to 1403 men and 936 women. 1,691 cases were completed. An additional 1,357 cases were still pending when the year ended. The results include 512 completed SSI cases with a success rate of 88%! With HAC's help, homeless men and women can begin to put their lives back together with sustainable income, healthcare, mental health treatment, housing, and restored dignity. HAC is the only program in the Bay Area that specializes in legal assistance to those who are chronically homeless. Services are free and we do not accept any share of the funds a client may be awarded.
This year, the social safety net is under attack. HAC will not stand idly by as these critical programs are incrementally devastated and eliminated. No one should have to face homelessness alone.
"We appreciate so much all you were able to do for [my nephew.] It is comforting to know he was accepting help. We all tried to help him at one time and another. But he would always sabotage any efforts. It is good to know you folks are helping mentally ill and homeless people. Mental illness is a terrible thing." - Letter to HAC