What kind of housing is your client applying for? A Home Choice voucher? An apartment in a subsidized building? Perhaps she can obtain rent assistance through Shelter Plus Care or a subsidy that’s restricted to people with disabilities, such as PTSD.
Unless you have never ventured into finding affordable housing for a client, by now you are familiar with the repetitive process of filling out the application paperwork. You know there are forms all the programs need, and some that vary by housing type. This series of posts will show you how to assemble a housing portfolio that will lessen the challenge, not to mention the tedium, of filling out all those forms.
There is a critical step to take before you add any information to your client’s portfolio. Make sure you have a list of every subsidized housing program in your community. Ideally your community Continuum of Care has implemented a Central Assessment and Intake Center. HEARTH requires every CoC community to develop a way for people to access the entire housing system through one entry point – a one stop shop if you will. If there’s no central intake yet you can research all potential affordable places to live. Don’t assume you know about every housing option. In Stark County Ohio, a community of less than 300,000 people we have over 30 affordable housing providers.
At least for now housing providers will have their own version of an initial application. Naturally they vary in eligibility and in restrictions on tenants they can accept. (When the central intake center is in place it may include standardized applications).
This post covers the basics. You won’t find any surprises but we are putting together a check list. You can use the list for every client’s housing portfolio you create.
- Birth Certificate for each adult and each minor child living with you
- Social security card for each adult in the household and for each minor child living with you who is five years old or older
- Picture ID for each adult
If your client is missing any of these items she can get new ones issued. Generally there are fees attached. You can check with your local United Way Information and Referral to find agencies that will pay the fees.
If your client was born in the County in which she is seeking services it is a simple matter to go to the County’s Office of Vital Records and request one. If she was born in a different County then you will need to do a little research to find out how that County processes requests for new birth certificates. You can log into the government web site for the County where she was born. You can also use the site http://birth.recordsproject.com/ for the fastest link to each state’s Office of Vital Records. It provides a link to each state’s authority for issuing them.
Social Security Cards:
Use the site at http://www.ssa.gov/ssnumber to apply for a copy of social security cards. The Social Security Administration issues cards for free. The site also offers guidance on how your client can obtain a social security number if she doesn’t have one, even if she is an immigrant.
The site at http://www.womenslaw.org/laws_state_type.php?id=10270&state_code=US outlines the options available to victims who are not lawful U.S. residents. This site describes the process for survivors who need to self-petition for protection from their abusers without facing the threat of deportation. There are significant legal issues in play here, but you can also find referrals to immigration lawyers, many of whom work pro bono. The U.S. Department of Justice maintains a database of sources for free or low cost legal advice at http://www.justice.gov/eoir/probono/states.htm.
Picture ID Cards:
These are available at your local Department of Motor Vehicles. They may also be available from the county registrar’s office. Before your client goes to apply for a picture ID double check what is required for proof of identity. Generally this will be your client’s Social Security card. If the agency requires proof of residency you can find out in advance what is acceptable. If your client is homeless the agency should have an alternative to an item that shows the home address.
Whether your client already has these documents or she needs to obtain them protect them carefully. The effort you invest to obtain them will ease her access to everything from food stamps to applications for jobs or college. Not to mention rent assisted housing.