Strategies to increase the income of homeless families and individuals are critical to ensure they can ultimately pay for their own housing. For many, this can be achieved through employment; those who are disabled or have special needs may be able to access federal disability benefits.
Increasing Access to Disability Benefits
Countywide Benefits Entitlement Services Teams (CBEST) (Strategies C4/C5/C6) assist disabled homeless individuals with their applications for federal benefits, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Veterans Benefits, with the goal of increasing their income, which can be used for housing.
The benefits application process is lengthy and complex, but enrollment in the CBEST program provides people experiencing homelessness with assistance to navigate the process and access benefits. 12,459 individuals are already enrolled. Between July 2018 and March 2019, 786 applications for SSI and Veterans benefits have been submitted, with 217 approved. Although there is often a long process of gathering documentation prior to submission of these benefits application, and approval processes can take more than a year, many participants are able to receive critical services while they are waiting; in the first nine months of fiscal year 2018-2019, nearly 1,500 CBEST participants were connected to mental health services and nearly 3,000 were connected to health services.