SSI Outreach Access & Recovery (SOAR) Project
SOAR - Rapid SSI Benefits for Homeless Individuals
In July 2007, HAP entered into a contract with the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Supportive Housing (OSH, the City agency charged with overseeing the shelter system) to provide Social Security Disability services to chronically homeless Philadelphians through a federal project titled SOAR (SSI Outreach Access and Recovery Program).
Under SOAR, HAP is helping the City to implement a federal mandate that Philadelphia very rapidly develop and submit fully developed SSI applications for homeless persons applying for disability benefits. The contract, which has been renewed for a fourth year, has been so successful that it is referenced as the model for SOAR in the country. In the first two years of the contract, HAP helped over 150 chronically homeless individuals to access SSI benefits with an average wait time of 30 days.
In 2009, HAP entered into three additional SOAR contracts. In partnership with Pennsylvania’s Department of Public Welfare (DPW), HAP has brought SOAR to welfare mothers in Philadelphia who have exceeded their 60 month federal welfare limits (TANF). HAP has also contracted through OSH with Pennsylvania’s Department of Community Economic Development (DCED) to bring SOAR to newly homeless individuals in Philadelphia with federal stimulus dollars awarded competitively by the State. In its contract with Philadelphia’s Department of Human Services (DHS), HAP is helping youth aging out of Residential Treatment Facilities to access SSI benefits upon discharge.
Martha Burt and Carol Wilkins – major researchers in the field of homelessness – published an issue brief under contract with the Dept of HHS in April 2012. Their topic was Establishing Eligibility for SSI for Chronically Homeless People. Naturally, a large focus is the success of SOAR. They write: “The best performance by a SOAR project was Philadelphia’s Homeless Advocacy Project. It obtained 99 percent approval in an average of 32 days for 742 applications over a period of 4 years.”
For more information about SOAR, please contact HAP’s Managing Attorney Michele Levy at email@example.com.