SOAR July eNews

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July 2016



SOAR Presents at Conferences, Webinar

The SOAR TA Center has been busy presenting at conferences and on webinars! Jen Elder, National Policy and Partnerships Coordinator, represented the SOAR TA Center at three national and state conferences, and Kristin Lupfer, Director of the SOAR TA Center, represented SOAR on a national webinar:

National Coalition for Homeless Veterans (NCHV) Conference, Washington, D.C.

This year's annual NCHV conference was focused on leveraging momentum from the Five-Year Plan to end Veteran homelessness to reach the goal of functional zero in cities and states across the country. We provided information to participants through a breakout session and round robin expert tables about the importance of the SOAR model and Social Security Administration (SSA) benefits. Income supports and SOAR are critical as we work to prevent future Veteran homelessness! Learn more about the NCHV Conference on their website.

Maryland SOAR Annual Conference

SOARWorks Maryland
We continued spreading the message about the importance of SSA benefits for Veterans at this year's Maryland SOAR Conference. Local SOAR leaders shared their expertise in writing Medical Summary Reports, interviewing clients, starting your first SOAR application, and understanding how Disability Determination Services evaluates substance use. The conference also recognized and awarded the efforts of SOAR leads and case managers, and we echo this praise--thanks for all your hard work in making Maryland a top SOAR state!

Utah Supported Employment (IPS) & Supportive Housing (CABHI) Summit

We were honored to participate in the kick-off event for Utah's Individual Placement and Support (IPS) and Cooperative Agreements to Benefit Homeless Individuals (CABHI) employment initiatives and to speak about the importance of SSA work incentives and benefits planning. As we encourage individuals to explore work, we want them to be armed with clear knowledge about how they can work while applying for and receiving SSA disability benefits. We look forward to continued partnerships with Utah's IPS and SOAR teams through the recently launched National CABHI: SOAR and IPS pilot.

USICH Webinar: Key Strategies for Connecting People Experiencing Homelessness to SSI/SSDI

On May 19, the SOAR TA Center presented on the Key Strategies for Connecting People Experiencing Homelessness to SSI/SSDI webinar, to discuss the Key Strategies report and to share strategies to increase access to SSA benefits. The webinar panelists included representatives from the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH), SSA, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The webinar archive and slides can be accessed on the USICH website



Sharing Our Successes

Illinois

Congratulations to the Center for Housing and Health (a supporting organization of the AIDS Foundation of Chicago) on hiring two dedicated SOAR case managers! Keep SOARing, Chicago!

North Carolina

Over the past 2 years, Evan Lowder has been conducting research on the SOAR model as part of her graduate training at North Carolina State University and as an award recipient of the Disability Determination Process Small Grant Program. Her most recent project involved a multi-level analysis of national SOAR application data collected through the SOAR Online Application Tracking system. As part of this analysis, she investigated applicant-related and state-level factors associated with faster application processing time and higher likelihood of application approval. Her findings identified groups of applicants who had better application outcomes (e.g., applicants living in institutional settings, male applicants) and found that some of these effects were more pronounced in states with higher SSI/SSDI award rates. Most relevant to the SOAR model, she found that submission of medical records, preparation of the Medical Summary Report (MSR), and obtaining a co-signature on the MSR were the most important predictors of a successful SOAR-assisted application.

In recognition of her research, Evan received a Student Incentive Award to attend and present her research at the American Public Health Association conference in Denver, Colorado. She will present her research at the November 2016 conference as part of the Disability Section programming. For more information or to contact her, Evan can be reached at emlowder@ncsu.edu. Congratulations, Evan! What fabulous news!

Do you have a success story you would like to share with the SOAR community? E-mail it to soar@prainc.com!



Job Postings

Nevada

Caridad, Inc. is seeking a full-time SOAR Benefits Coordinator based in Las Vegas, Nevada. The successful candidate will complete all duties related to the disability application process.

Florida

Broward Behavioral Health Coalition (BBHC) is hiring an Entitlements/SOAR Coordinator located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The successful candidate will be responsible for supporting BBHC housing and employment initiatives to expand access to entitlements/benefits through the SOAR model.

New York

The Center for Urban Community Services (CUCS) Institute's Reentry Coordination System (RCS) is seeking a RCS Entitlements Specialist based in New York, New York. RCS is involved in developing and improving supportive housing initiatives in New York City for justice-involved individuals.

Learn more about these postings on the SOARWorks website. Do you have a job posting you would like to share with the SOAR community? E-mail it to soar@prainc.com!



Federal Updates

Social Security Board of Trustees: Long-Range Projection Unchanged for Trust Fund Reserve Depletion

The Social Security Board of Trustees released its annual report on the long-term financial status of the Social Security Trust Funds. The combined asset reserves of the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Disability Insurance Trust Funds are projected to become depleted in 2034, the same as projected last year, with 79 percent of benefits payable at that time. The Disability Insurance Trust Fund will become depleted in 2023, extended from last year's estimate of 2016, with 89 percent of benefits still payable. Read the full report.

SSA Publications

SSA has recently updated several publications to provide the public with the most accurate and current information about their programs. Some publications of interest to the SOAR community include Update 2016, Identity Theft and Your Social Security Number, Reviewing Your Disability, How Work Affects Your Benefits, Working While Disabled--How We Can Help, and What You Can Do Online. View all of the publications on the SSA website.

A Policy Forum on the SSI Program

July 12, 2016; Washington, D.C.
The Social Security Advisory Board welcomes policy makers from Capitol Hill and federal and state agencies; the research and academic community; child welfare, aging, and disability advocates; and others to join them at a policy forum discussing four main areas of concern within the Supplemental Security Income program. Learn more and register.

DOL-VETS and HUD Announce New Funding to Help End Veteran Homelessness

Both the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) have announced new funding to help end Veteran homelessness through the Homeless Veterans' Reintegration Program (HVRP) and HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) Program. We encourage all HVRP and HUD-VASH grantees to check out our resources for utilizing SOAR with these programs!

Social Security's New and Improved Same-Sex Couples Website

To improve the way Social Security communicates with the LGBT community, SSA has redesigned its website for same-sex couples. The website updates include reorganized and streamlined menus, new site content, a new publication, and new banner images to foster an improved user experience. View the new website.



Funding Corner

Don't Forget: SOAR TA Center Offers Individual Funding Searches

Did you know you are eligible to receive a free, comprehensive funding source report from the SOAR TA Center? Answer a few easy questions and within days you will receive a full list of potential funding sources to grow or sustain SOAR activities in your state. The reports are specifically tailored to your geographic location, funding goals, and objectives! See your SOAR State Liaison for more information!



SOAR Voices Blog Posts

OUTCOMES! Why I love outcomes...

I look forward every year to the time when we collect outcomes from states and communities on SOAR-assisted SSA disability applications. I realize that the data entry required to collect the outcomes can be a challenge, but these outcomes are vital to the success of SOAR both nationally and locally.

SOARing in Big Sky Country

I'm always excited to help communities re-energize and re-dedicate themselves to their SOAR process. This happened recently when my colleague, Abigail Lemon, and I held several meetings in cities across Montana.

SOAR Spotlight: Matt Canuteson

Get to know SOAR TA Center Liaison Matt Canuteson in this new blog. Find out what states he works with, his favorite travel story, and his favorite SOAR success story!



Events

National Health Care for the Homeless Council Webinar--Hospital Community Benefit Funding: Potential Resources to Meet the Needs of Homeless Populations

July 12, 2016; 2:00-3:00 p.m. ET
To qualify for tax exemptions as charitable organizations, not-for-profit hospitals are required to engage in activities that benefit their communities, often known as "hospital community benefit." These activities can mean additional funding for programs, staffing, and other tangible assistance that meet the needs of people who are homeless, often addressing gaps in existing community services.

This webinar complements a recent policy brief and will give an overview of hospital community benefit requirements, describe how community benefit funds are often allocated, provide examples of successful partnerships currently in practice in two states, and share advice for maximizing hospital partnerships with the Health Care for the Homeless community. Register for the July 12 webinar.

Final 2016 Leadership Academy Date

August 30-September 1: Charleston, South Carolina. See your state liaison for more information!

SOARing Over Lunch Conference Calls

July 12, 2016; 1:00-2:00 p.m. ET
The next SOARing Over Lunch Conference Call will take place this July! The SOAR TA Center is hosting a series of informal monthly calls designed to help support SOAR efforts across the country. Participants can call in to ask about any SOAR-related question they may have. These is no agenda set in advance for these calls, but we do ask that you submit questions and/or topics you would like covered in advance of the calls.

Call/Log-in information:

SOAR Webinar Archive Available: Appeals -- Hearing Skills Building

In this webinar, held on June 22, 2016, the SOAR TA Center helped SOAR practitioners continue building their "Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Hearing Toolbox" for the successful representation of SOAR applicants before SSA's Office of Disability Adjudication and Review. The webinar recording, PowerPoint slides, and supplementary materials are available for on-demand viewing on the SOAR website.
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In This Issue












OUTCOMES! Why I love outcomes...

SOARing in Big Sky Country

SOAR Spotlight: Matt Canuteson



National Health Care for the Homeless Council Webinar--Hospital Community Benefit Funding: Potential Resources to Meet the Needs of Homeless Populations

Final 2016 Leadership Academy Date

SOARing Over Lunch Conference Calls

SOAR Webinar Archive Available: Appeals -- Hearing Skills Building
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HUD Launches Small Contractors Initiative Curriculum


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U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development HUD Exchange Mailing List

HUD Launches Small Contractors Initiative Curriculum


The Department of Housing and Urban Development's Office of the DAS for Economic Development in partnership with the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, and Office of Field Policy and Management, along with BusinessUSA and the Small Business Administration announce the launch of a new curriculum. The Small Contractors Initiative curriculum focuses on materials that will assist small contractors achieve bondable status such that they can more readily pursue federal contracting opportunities as independent firms.
The goal is to provide the information in a pre-packaged format to small business development centers and any other organization that provides technical assistance and training to small businesses. It provides the opportunity to engage with a cohort of small contractors using both face-to-face instruction as well as distance learning. The consolidation of materials to teach these topics provides local small business development organizations the opportunity to tap into a wealth of information, while using their ever-shrinking resources for this type of training in a more targeted way. In other words, organizations can focus on providing one-on-one consultations with small businesses rather than spending the time to develop the materials for use in these types of trainings.
This curriculum gives small contractors the tools they need to get a bond and set them on a path to grow their businesses.

View the Small Contractors Initiative Curriculum


Collaboration between HUD's Office of Community Planning and Development and the Office of the Inspector General


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U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development HUD Exchange Mailing List

Collaboration between HUD's Office of Community Planning and Development and the Office of the Inspector General


Ending homelessness through the provision of affordable housing and supportive services are just some of the important activities that are supported with the Continuum of Care (CoC) Program funds administered by HUD’s Office of Community Planning and Development (CPD). These programs are administered and managed by committed homeless services providers from the non-profit sector as well as units of state and local government.
Unfortunately, our data show that year in and year out, a significant amount of these essential funds is found to be used improperly, not sufficiently documented, not spent by required deadlines, or otherwise jeopardized. On an annual basis, HUD’s CPD grantees end up losing or having to repay millions of dollars in program funds, rendering these scarce valuable resources unavailable to the communities that rely on them.
Efficient operations and effective accountability mechanisms are essential to ensuring that limited federal targeted homeless assistance resources are protected and prudently used for their intended purposes. Our collective ability to maintain or increase federal funding for homeless assistance activities is undermined by widespread examples of funds that have not been appropriately used or managed. We are writing to ask for your assistance ensuring that as a recipient of CoC Program funds, you take every possible measure to guarantee the proper and timely use of HUD program funds.
Too often, a HUD monitoring review or an Office of the Inspector General’s (OIG) audit is the first official look at the management of these programs. Every CoC and recipient of CoC Program funds must have the capability to monitor these programs and should be the first line of defense ensuring that program funds are managed appropriately. With recent changes in federal accounting and procurement requirements, the risk of loss or repayment of these funds has never been greater and the attention of elected and appointed officials to the management of these programs has never been more necessary.
To assist in this effort, the OIG and CPD Office are launching a series of Integrity Bulletins on the following topics, which represent issues HUD formula grantees struggle with most often:
  • Procurement and Contracting
  • Subrecipient Oversight
  • Conflicts of Interest
  • Internal Controls
  • Documentation and Reporting
  • Financial Management
These bulletins will be released over the course of the year and will provide information to help safeguard CoC Program funds and ensure that your community gets the full benefit of the funding you have been awarded. Read the first bulletin in the series regarding Procurement and Contracting. We encourage you to read the bulletins and distribute them widely.
We also encourage you to learn more about all of the CPD programs on HUD’s technical assistance website, the HUD Exchange. There you will find resources like the Explore CDBG suite, the Building HOME training series, and the Introduction to the ESG Program webinar, among many other resources specific to the CoC Program.
Finally, CoCs and recipients of funding, we ask that you work with HUD to identify mechanisms for ensuring that all CoC Program funding going to your CoC is managed in the most effective manner. We urge you to consider ways to share best practices, policies, and procedures with other recipients of funding within your CoC as well as other CoCs across the country. One possible approach may be increased participation in organizations, conferences, and other events where CPD’s local government grantees represent a significant proportion of attendees. Other opportunities may exist in securing technical assistance that can serve all CPD grantees. HUD wishes to encourage a greater sharing of program implementation information across the spectrum of CoC Program recipients to help insure that these funds benefit the populations to which they are targeted. State grantees should also ensure that they are staffed at the appropriate levels to manage much larger formula programs than those at the local level.  
We all know how precious CoC Program resources are, and the CPD and OIG partnership is designed to assure that each taxpayer dollar is used to benefit the communities we are all entrusted to serve. If you have any questions about administration of your CoC Program funds or concerns about fraud, waste, or abuse, please do not hesitate to reach out to your local CPD or OIG office. Local contact information is available at www.hud.gov.


Please Read: Important Information about FY 2016 PIT Count Data Corrections


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U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development HUD Exchange Mailing List

Please Read: Important Information about FY 2016 PIT Count Data Corrections


Please read this important message through to the end. HUD has been made aware that some communities may be using Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) software solutions that were programmed to count chronic clients incorrectly. It is important the data on chronic homelessness is as precise as possible. For this reason, HUD is working to identify impacted communities and provide them an opportunity to correct their 2016 Point-in-Time (PIT) count data in HUD’s Homelessness Data Exchange (HDX).
We are asking communities to do the following:
  • Reach out to your vendor and verify the numbers submitted to HUD for the 2016 PIT count were calculated based on the programming for chronically homeless at a point in time (CH-PIT) as defined in the October 2015 HMIS Standard Reporting Terminology Glossary. Note that HUD has communicated with the HMIS vendors directly about this and they should be prepared to answer your questions about this issue.
     
  • If your vendor verifies the programming is correct, you can stop here. You do not need to notify HUD or do anything further.
     
  • If your vendor indicates there is an error in programming, you must work with the vendor to re-run the PIT count data once the programming has been corrected.
     
  • Once you have accurate data, submit a question in the Ask a Question (AAQ) portal on the HUD Exchange alerting HUD of the need to fix your PIT count submission. To submit a question to the HDX AAQ portal, select “HDX: Homelessness Data Exchange (including PIT, HIC, and AHAR)” from the “My question is related to” drop down list on Step 2 of the question submission process.
     
  • The HDX team will work with all Continuums of Care (CoCs) who submit questions to the AAQ to evaluate their issue and update data in the HDX.
     
  • All requests to change PIT count data in the HDX must be submitted in the AAQ no later than 7:59:59 PM EDT on Friday, July 15, 2016.

Deadline Extended: Sign-On Letter to Increase McKinney Funding and Protect USICH!




Advocacy Update
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Deadline Extended: Sign-On Letter to Increase McKinney Funding and Protect USICH!
The deadline to sign-on to this letter to increase funding for McKinney and protect USICH has been extended to 12pm EST Wednesday, July 13. This letter urges appropriations leadership to fund McKinney at least at the $2.487 billion level in the House bill; and maintain funding for USICH at $3.6 million and extend its sunset date from 2017 to 2020.

This funding level would be the biggest one-year increase to the program in 20 years and would provide housing for approximately 40,000 more people than this year.

Here’s What You Can Do:

  1. Sign-on your organization to this letter here
  2. Share this sign-on letter with your networks. We could also use help spreading the word about signing on with your networks, particularly in: Maine, Kentucky, Mississippi, Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Vermont.
  3. If USICH has worked with your community, please also reach out to the housing staffer for your Representative in the House to let them know about the role they played in ending homelessness in your community. Ask them to weigh in with appropriations leadership in support of USICH.  
    • Reach out to Jaime Colman or Julie Klein if you need their contact information.  
    • Keep us posted on your outreach!
12pm EST Wednesday, July 13 will be the final deadline so we can send the letter over before the recess. We need to get the message about the importance of McKinney funding and the work USICH does to end homelessness to Chair Diaz-Balart and his colleagues as soon as possible!
Sign-on to the letter here!

About Us

The National Alliance to End Homelessness is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to solving the problem of homelessness and preventing its continued growth.

Join Us

The Alliance is online: on Facebook, on Twitter, on our blog, and on our website! Join the Alliance's online community, and stay up-to-date with homelessness and housing information.

www.endhomelessness.org

Need Technical Assistance?

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