The Housing and Essential Needs program provides basic needs and rental assistance for low- income individuals who are unable to work for at least 90 days due to a physical and/or mental incapacity.
Because the program is not an entitlement, when funds run out, so does access to the program. The Governor’s budget increased funding by $15 million over the 2019-2021 budget, but that is still more than $11 million below the 2021-2023 budget. (which was increased with federal funds.)
Because it was created as bridge to federal support, when people qualify for Supplemental Security Income/Social Security Disability Income (SSI/SSDI) benefits, HEN benefits end, and people abruptly lose their rental assistance. Someone receiving SSI can afford only about $300 per month for rent and this cliff is causing people to fall back into homelessness. A pilot program has been in place for several years to allow some HEN recipients to continue receiving rental assistance when they qualify for SSI or SSDI.
The Legislature should increase funding for the Housing and Essential Needs program by at least $11 million over the Governor’s proposed budget. The Legislature should also extend and expand the pilot program to allow HEN recipients to con/nue receiving rental assistance after they qualify for SSI/SSDI to prevent homelessness.