SOAR eNews - January 2014

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January 2014

HUD's NOFA: Score More with SOAR!

HUD's Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) for the FY 2013-FY 2014 Continuum of Care competition was released on November 22, with applications due on February 3, 2014. One of the most significant changes in this year's NOFA is that awards will be for two years. This change means that it is more important than ever to reinforce in your CoC's application that SOAR plays a critical role in ending chronic homelessness. SOAR meets the needs of people with disabilities who are experiencing chronic homelessness or at risk of homelessness by helping them to access mainstream benefits, including Social Security disability benefits. These benefits ultimately increase access to, and retention in, housing.
The full NOFA is available here, with sections pertaining to SOAR highlighted, and descriptions of HUD's priority areas, which align well with SOAR programs across the nation. If you are not sure whether your agency participates in CoC planning, ask your program director or visit this HUD website to locate your CoC contact person. Click on your state and CoC Program to find out how to reach the CoC contact person. Next, share how the SOAR process adds points to the NOFA application, and more importantly, how SOAR shares the common goal of ending homelessness in your community by increasing access to mainstream benefits.

Sharing Our Successes

SOAR News and Accomplishments
Nashville, TN: Park Center just had their 500th SSI/SSDI approval! Congratulations to Ashley Blum, Judy Haunhorst, Cayla Wilson, and Becca Dryden. This is an amazing achievement. All of us at the National SOAR TA Center appreciate your hard work and dedication to ending homelessness. You've not only changed lives in Nashville; your program has impacted thousands across the country by showing what is possible through SOAR. On behalf of the SOAR community, thanks for all that you do!
Morgantown, WV: Meghan Kline, local lead for Morgantown, had her first allowance using SOAR in November. Way to go Meghan!
Cheyenne, WY: Jessica Fancher shared a few creative training activities she developed during our last SOAR Trainers Alumni Group (TAG) call. Based on the popular TV game show Family Feud, Jessica developed a fun way to test participants' understanding of the material after each module. Jessica made the Stepping Stones to Recovery training video more interactive by having participants use the "Interview with Andrea" to complete an SSI application during the training. Jessica is developing a handout describing each activity's steps and guidelines that will be shared at our next TAG call.
To learn more great training tips and updates, we welcome all SOAR Trainers to attend our next TAG call on Wednesday, January 8th at 3:00PM EST (12:00 PM PST). Call-in information will be sent closer to the date. We look forward to hearing your ideas and updates!
If you have a SOAR-related success story to share, email
SOAR Transitions
As many of you know, Deb Dennis, project director of the SOAR Technical Assistance Center and Vice President for Technical Assistance at Policy Research Associates, Inc., which operates the SOAR TA Center, has been a strong proponent of SOAR since it began in 2005. On January 15, Deb will be leaving her position at PRA. The SOAR program has grown tremendously under her leadership, and from the start of her employment at PRA in 1988, she has contributed more broadly to research in the areas of homelessness and behavioral health. She will remain involved and interested in SOAR, both as a consultant to PRA and as a SOAR practitioner in the Albany, NY, area. Deb reflects on past and future:
I hope to continue contributing to SOAR - locally and in a more direct and personal way. There are no better people than those of you who are making SOAR happen in this country and, as a result, ending homelessness one person at a time. I'm proud to have worked with each and every one of you.
Best of luck, Deb, in your new adventures!
We are pleased to announce that Kristin Lupfer will become the project director of the SOAR Technical Assistance Center as Deb leaves. Kristin has been with the TA Center since 2009 and is currently the Center's associate director. She has worked closely with Deb over the past year to ensure a smooth transition. Kristin is the former State Lead for SOAR in Georgia and has a Masters in Social Work from Columbia University. Please join us in wishing Kristin much success in her new role.

Social Security Updates

Changes in Access to SSN Printouts and Benefit Verification Information
As of February 2014, the Social Security Administration will no longer offer Social Security number (SSN) printouts and benefit verification information in their field offices. However, to ensure a smooth transition, they will continue providing these services if requested until April 2014. Employers, departments of motor vehicles, and other entities requiring SSN verification can obtain this information in real time or overnight using online government services, such as E-Verify and Social Security's Business Services Online. Beneficiaries and recipients needing a benefit verification letter can obtain one immediately by registering for a my Social Security account at, or through the mail within 5-7 days by calling SSA's national toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213. For more information, click here.
SSA's New Ticket to Work Video Series
Ben, cartoon character Social Security wants you to meet Ben. He receives disability benefits but would like to work. Before he can get started, he needs to understand how working will affect his benefits. In a new, four-minute video (click here) that explains the Ticket to Work program, you can meet Ben and learn more about his journey to navigate the Ticket program and his options for finding services to help along the way. Ben learns what happens when you contact the Ticket to Work Help Line, his options for selecting a service provider to help him meet his work goals, and how to make a plan for going to work. This video is a fun way to learn more about SSA's Ticket to Work. We highly recommend it to SOAR providers!
Get Benefit Verification Online
At this time of year, a lot of people need proof of their income, particularly when applying for housing assistance or other state or local benefits, or proving disability status. People can use their cost-of-living adjustment notice or their SSA-1099 to verify their benefit income. If they have lost their documentation, however, and need proof of income, it's easy to get a benefit verification letter at the SSA website. This letter is variously called a "budget letter," a "benefits letter," a "proof of income letter" or a "proof of award letter." A person can instantly obtain and print their benefit verification letter by taking a few minutes to create a my Social Security account at

Upcoming SOAR TA Center Events

SOAR Trainers Alumni Group (TAG) Call: All trainers are welcome to participate! Wednesday, January 8th, 3:00PM EST (12:00 PM PST). Call-in information will be sent closer to the date.
From all of us at the SOAR TA Center, have a Happy and Healthy New Year!

The SOAR TA Center is sponsored by the
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Disclaimer: The SOAR Technical Assistance Center develops and distributes E-News with support from SAMHSA, HHS. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official view of HHS or SAMHSA.

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