housing action
Protect and expand the Housing and Essential Needs program


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The problem:

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.

Legislative solution:

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.