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A Monthly Briefing from Tipping Point
A Monthly Briefing from Tipping Point
As part of our efforts to prevent homelessness and better leverage public funds, we are teaming up with the San Francisco Human Services Agency (HSA) to secure Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for more San Franciscans. Together we are piloting a program that will connect people to SSI—federal income payments to aged and disabled people—via teams of dedicated lawyers to help some of San Francisco’s most vulnerable clients.

Building on San Francisco’s innovative SSI Advocacy Program, this three-year “SSI Advocacy Pilot” adds legal resources and is tailored to meet the unique needs of individuals experiencing homelessness. A similar model in Alameda County has secured $120 million in income for clients and saved the county $23 million in local public aid payments since 2012. Among high-needs individuals who were able to obtain SSI benefits in Alameda County, 80% experienced fewer psychiatric emergency events and 71% experienced fewer incarcerations.

The SSI Advocacy Pilot participants will transition from receiving local assistance to federal support—which will provide more income to clients, improve their health outcomes, and enable the public sector to reinvest the savings. Read on to learn more about this exciting collaboration.
All my best,
CEO + Founder, Tipping Point Community

Snapshot: SSI Legal Advocacy Pilot — Increasing Income and Saving Local Funds

Increasing Income
Federally funded SSI offers more than $900 per month to low-income people with disabilities, while local general assistance amounts are typically much lower—ranging from less than $100 to $473 per month. By connecting eligible people to SSI, counties can save money, avoid costly emergency and incarceration costs, and improve outcomes for low-income individuals with particularly challenging health conditions. 
Getting Connected
Tipping Point is teaming up with HSA and has contracted with two experienced legal nonprofits, Bay Area Legal Aid and Positive Resource Center, to launch the SSI Advocacy Pilot, an expansion of the City’s current SSI Advocacy Program. This pilot adds legal advocacy to the process of connecting clients to SSI, and focuses efforts on those who are chronically homeless or at risk of chronic homelessness. To understand the focus of this effort, let’s look at the numbers:

  • According to the San Francisco 2017 Point-in-Time Count, 63% of people experiencing chronic homelessness reported having a psychiatric or emotional condition, while 40% reported having a physical disability. This means they likely qualify for SSI, but their conditions may present a barrier to access—they often need help to successfully navigate the application and appeal processes. 
  • Nationwide, the majority of SSI applications are rejected initially, but over 50% are approved upon appeal. With lawyers dedicated to overseeing the application and appeals process for this particularly vulnerable population, the SSI Advocacy Pilot team has the expertise to pursue and win these appeals.
Measuring Success
The goal is that the Pilot will pay for itself—replacing local expenditures with federal funding streams and seeing cost-savings due to clients’ improved quality of life—by 2021. If the Pilot is cost-neutral and reaches individuals who are not currently captured through current models, HSA plans to seek budget approval to incorporate SSI Legal Advocacy as a permanent part of its services.

Who's Making It Happen

Susie Smith
“It can be especially hard for individuals experiencing homelessness to show up for appointments. If a more community-based and legally-staffed SSI advocacy model proves to more effectively help homeless individuals get and stay on SSI, we’d be thrilled!”
In charge of policy and planning as Deputy Director of the San Francisco HSA, Susie Smith delights in designing and testing innovative programs and building new partnerships around a collective vision. She is particularly interested in looking at ways to decrease vulnerable populations churning on and off of public benefits due to challenges in meeting program requirements. With the SSI Advocacy Pilot as just one example, Susie and her colleagues are spearheading an initiative in partnership with the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing and the Department of Public Health to increase access to a variety of public benefits for sheltered and unsheltered homelessness individuals.

What We're Reading

  • Former foster youth Alexis Barries’ OpEd about experiencing homelessness when she was 19 demonstrates why Tipping Point is co-sponsoring SB918—to serve the more than 15,000 young people experiencing homelessness throughout California. Encourage Governor Brown to sign this legislation: just click this link, then select “SB00918 Homeless Youth Act 2018” and share your support.
  • San Francisco is one of a dozen U.S. cities considering opening a Safe Injection Facility to help combat the opioid overdose epidemic, which is now the leading cause of death for adults nationally. If you're curious to learn more about this bold idea, here's a review of the demonstration site by the San Francisco Chronicle

Chronic Homelessness Initiative Overview

There are approximately 2,100 people experiencing chronic homelessness on any given night in San Francisco. Tipping Point’s $100 million pledge marks the single largest private investment to address homelessness in City history.

Tipping Point takes a three-pronged approach to our impact goal. See here for more details. If you are receiving this email as a forward, subscribe here to receive this update monthly.
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