HAP's SOAR Project 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. By securing SSI/SSDI benefits, eligible homeless are provided with the economic resources needed to secure safe housing.
Legal Assistance

SSI Outreach Access & Recovery (SOAR) Project

SOAR - Rapid SSI Benefits for Homeless Individuals
In July 2007, HAP entered into its first contract with the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Supportive Housing (OSH) to develop an expedited Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability benefits application protocol for chronically homeless Philadelphians modeled under a federal initiative titled SOAR (SSI/SSDI Outreach Access and Recovery). HAP developed, and continues to administer, Philadelphia’s only SOAR Project through which HAP rapidly secures SSI benefits for disabled homeless adults and youth.

HAP’s SOAR project is so successful that it is referenced as the model for SOAR in the country. Currently, HAP contracts with OSH, the Department of Human Services (DHS), the Mental Health Association of Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Prisons Systems, Project HOME and, most recently, the Mayor’s Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity (MOCS) to bring SOAR to the City’s new Benefits Access Center(s).

In Fall 2013, with generous funding from the Samuel Fels Fund and the Bara Foundation, HAP successfully launched a SOAR Re-entry program for prisoners being discharged from Philadelphia’s Mental Health Court/prison system to activate SSI/medical benefits for qualifying inmates at the time of discharge. To date, HAP has helped over 1,300 homeless individuals to access SSI benefits through SOAR with an average wait time of only 34 days.

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 mlevy@haplegal.org.