It comes as no surprise that many of New York City's homeless men and women suffer from severe physical and mental health issues. Sadly, hundreds do not receive adequate support services and their disabilities often prevent them from transitioning off the streets and out of shelters. Many qualify for government benefits such as Social Security Disability Insurance and could use that income to help secure a housing placement. However, homeless people are often dissuaded by the complex and daunting task of applying for government benefits.
The Coalition's Client Advocacy Project (CAP) provides intensive case management so that homeless adults with disabilities can secure federal disability benefits (SSDI/SSI), and public assistance advocacy to obtain housing. Through partnerships with The Legal Aid Society and Columbia Law School, the Client Advocacy Project continues its outstanding rates of success in Social Security disability benefit approvals. During a three-year period ending June 2007, we achieved an over 80 percent approval rate, more than twice the statewide average. CAP also partners with the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) and shelter administrators to identify clients in need of our assistance, and with supportive housing agencies to identify available and appropriate housing.
Last year, the Client Advocacy Project successfully helped 32 mentally or physically disabled homeless men and women obtain disability benefits and transitioned 40 disabled adults out of shelters or off the streets into independent, transitional, and supportive housing apartments. Our work saved New York City more than $700,000 in averted shelter costs.
For more information about the Client Advocacy Project (CAP), please contact Katie Mack at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 212-776-2032.
Vincent is homeless with a history of mental illness and frequent hospitalization. He came to the Coalition's Crisis Intervention Program last winter with complaints about his shelter's lack of heat or hot water, and overall unsanitary conditions. He was frustrated that he had been a resident at the facility for more than one year but had received little assistance in moving on to permanent housing. Not knowing what to do, he was on the verge of returning to the streets. Our Crisis Intervention staff and Shelter Monitor quickly addressed the appalling shelter conditions, and enabled him to transfer to a smaller, safer facility. Perhaps most troubling, Vincent had not received mental health services for over a year. Given his history of psychiatric illness, and his attempts to apply for disability benefits to secure permanent housing, we introduced him to our Client Advocacy Program and our onsite psychiatrist. It took our team only two months to help Vincent complete his applications for benefits and housing, and compile the necessary medical documentation. Now, with the approvals in hand, we are helping Vincent find permanent supportive housing, so he never has to worry about living on the streets again.