Is your client part of the 85%?

The wait for affordable housing is getting longer and longer…unless you are part of the 85%.

In recent years HUD and state funding sources have shifted more of their investments to serve people who have been chronically homeless. These programs are not the traditional public housing and Housing Choice programs, many of which have very long waiting lists.

HUD has set aside billions of dollars specifically to serve people who are literally homeless. On the street homeless. Living in cars, cycling through shelters and sleeping in vacant houses homeless.

These programs are housing people from the bottom up. In other words, the priority is on serving those who are most needy. HUD has mandated that its special needs funding help people with two characteristics: they have a chronic and pervasive disability and they have multiple episodes of homelessness. Housing providers access the special needs program as part of a Continuum of Care (CoC) that covers local communities.

Any agency seeking grant funds knows that every point earned in the scoring can be the difference between gaining or losing the funds. In this case HUD wants CoCs to give 85% of its funding to people who are most needy as defined above.

A qualifying disability

Is expected to be long-continuing or of indefinite duration and that the disability substantially impedes the individual’s ability to live independently.

Health care practitioners licensed by the state in which they practice must verify the presence of a severe disability OR the housing provider can rely upon documentation from the Social Security Administration that the client receives SSI or SSDI income benefits. (Social Security benefits based on age alone will not prove the existence of a disability.

Disabilities can be physical, psychiatric or developmental. For HUD’s special needs program a substance abuse disorder is considered an eligible disability, as are personality disorders.

Chronic homelessness occurs when

A household has experienced an episode of literal homelessness for one year or more OR has experienced at least four episodes of literal homelessness in less than three years

Eligible Episodes of Homelessness

People who meet both of these criteria will get shortcuts on waiting lists for HUD funded housing for the homeless. If you or your clients can demonstrate these are their circumstances they will move ahead of every household that cannot show both of these characteristics.

When your client is eligible he or she will get first shot at 85 out of every 100 units of housing or rent assistance.  If your clients are eligible for this assisted housing it means they have endured terrible ordeals. Perhaps their homelessness will end and their healing can begin.