Breaking Myths around Accessing Resources for People Experiencing Homelessness Supportive Housing Providers Association & Corporation for Supportive Housing July, 2012
Who is SHPA? • Mission – Strengthen the supportive housing industry, to enable the increased development of supportive housing, and to support non-profit organizations to develop the capacity for providing permanent supportive housing • Membership association • Strong state and federal advocacy voice • Training and technical assistance • Supportive housing resident involvement
Who is the CSH? We help communities throughout the country transform how they address homelessness and improve people’s lives through quality supportive housing. CSH’s Project Related Assistance • Project Assistance and Lending • Public Policy and Systems Reform • Industry Leadership and Capacity Building
Breaking Myths • Resources are limited • Extensive rules and regulations • Funder created requirements • Program/agency created requirements • Fact versus fiction • Great resources: • Federal Interagency Re-Entry Council “Re-Entry Myth Busters” • CSH “PHA and Re-Entry Populations: Eligibility of Person with Criminal Histories and/or Drug Involvement for Public Housing and Section8/Housing Choice Voucher Programs
Myth • All persons with criminal records are precluded by federal law or HUD regulations from accessing public housing or Section 8/Housing Choice Voucher assistance. • Individuals who have been convicted of a crime are “banned” from public housing.
Fact • Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) have great discretion in determining their admissions and occupancy policies for ex-offenders. • PHAs can choose to ban ex-offenders from participating in public housing and Section 8 programs, it is not HUD policy to do so.
Myth PHAs are required to evict households in response to every instance or illegal drug use, criminal activity, or lease violation.
Fact • PHAs have substantial discretionary authority. • HUD regulations require PHAs include lease clauses that prohibit any member of a household, guest, or other person under the tenant’s control from engaging in criminal activity, including drug related criminal activity, on or off premises • Entire tenant household can be evicted or for the activities of one member of the household or non-household member • Tenants can be evicted or terminated for activities that occur on or off the premises • Tenant can be evicted or terminated regardless of whether the person has been arrested or convicted of such activity
Fact • “Public Housing Authorities have the discretion to terminate the lease of a tenant when a member of the household or guest engaged in drug related activity, regardless of whether the tenant knew, or should have known, of the drug related activity”
Fact • PHAs are required to include in lease clauses outlining the possibility of termination if any member of the household has engaged in abuse of alcohol that threatens the health, safety, or right to peaceful enjoyment of the premises by other tenants • PHAs are granted considerable discretion when making decision regarding evictions or termination of assistance, including seeking alternatives to eviction or termination • PHAs remain free to consider a wide range of factors in deciding whether, and whom, to evict as a consequence of a lease violation. Factors may include: • Seriousness of the violation, • Effect that eviction of the entire household would have on the household members not involved in the criminal activity, and • Willingness of the head of household to remove the wrongdoing household member from the lease as a condition for continued occupancy
Myth • People with criminal records are automatically barred from employment opportunities.
Fact • An arrest or conviction record will NOT automatically bar individuals from employment. • If an employer is aware of a conviction or incarceration, that information should only bar employment when the conviction is closely related to the job, after considering: • The nature of the job, • The nature and seriousness of the offense, and • The length of time since it occurred.
Myth • An employer can get a copy of your criminal history from companies that do background checks without your permission.
Fact • Employers must get one’s permission, usually in writing, before asking a background screening company for a criminal history report. • If one does not give permission or authorization, the application for employment may not get reviewed. • If a person does give permission but does not get hired because of information in the report, the potential employer must follow several legal obligations.
Myth • Veterans cannot request to have their VA benefits resumed until they are officially released from incarceration.
Fact • Veterans may inform VA to have their benefits resumed within 30 days or less of their anticipated release date based on evidence from a parole board or other official prison source showing the Veteran’s scheduled release date.
Myth • A Veteran with criminal convictions or a history of incarceration is not eligible for VA health care.
Fact • An eligible Veteran, who is not currently incarcerated, can use VA care regardless of any criminal history, including incarceration. • Only when an otherwise eligible Veteran is currently incarcerated, or in fugitive felon status, is he or she not able to use VA health care.
Myth • Eligibility for Social Security benefits cannot be reinstated when an individual is released from incarceration.
Fact • Social Security benefits are not payable if an individual is convicted of a criminal offense and confined. • However, monthly benefits usually can be reinstated after a period of incarceration by contacting Social Security and providing proof of release.
Myth • Individuals convicted of a felony can never receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly the Food Stamp Program) benefits.
Fact • This ban applies only to convicted drug felons, and IL has amended the ban to allow some individuals to regain eligibility by meeting certain additional requirements.
Myth • An individual cannot apply for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly the Food Stamp Program) benefits without a valid State-issued identification card.
Fact • A person can get SNAP benefits even if he or she does not have a valid State ID. • A local office is required to accept any document that reasonably establishes the applicant’s identity and cannot accept only one type of verification. Other examples of acceptable documents that verify an applicant’s identity are: • A birth certificate • An ID card for health benefits or another assistance program • A school or work ID card • Wage stubs containing the applicant’s name
Myth • An individual cannot apply for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly the Food Stamp Program) benefits without a mailing address.
Fact • A person can get SNAP benefits even if he or she does not have a mailing address. • However, the SNAP application process requires applicants to provide an address where they can receive case related notices. • Holding correspondence at the local office for pick up; • Using the address of a local shelter (with the shelter’s permission); • Use the address of a trusted friend or family member (with resident’s permission); • Send correspondence to a local post office as general delivery mail.
Myth • A parent with a felony conviction cannot receive TANF/welfare.
Fact • The 1996 Welfare ban applies only to convicted drug felons, and only eleven states have kept the ban in place in its entirety. Most states have modified or eliminated the ban.
Myth • Incarceration exempts individuals from the requirement to file taxes, halts the accumulation of federal tax debts, and prohibits the receipt of tax credits and deductions upon release.
Fact • Incarceration neither changes one’s obligation to pay taxes and tax debts nor prohibits the receipt of tax credits and deductions upon release.
Myth • Medicaid agencies are required to terminate benefits if an otherwise eligible individual is incarcerated.
Fact • States are not required to terminate eligibility for individuals who are incarcerated based solely on inmate status. • States may suspend eligibility during incarceration, enabling an individual to remain enrolled in the state Medicaid program, thereby facilitating access to Medicaid services following release.
Myth • There are all kinds of myths regarding mental health, including the number of adults suffering from mental illness, ability to work with mental health issues, level of diagnoses.
Fact • 1 in 4 adults will have a mental illness during their lives • 1 in 17 (6%) develop a severe mental illness that is considered chronic and delibilating • 45% of people with a mental illness diagnose have symptoms of 2 or more psychiatric disorders
Additional Questions? • What other myths have you heard? • How do you best dispel myths?
Upcoming Webinars, Trainings, and Conferences • Information and registration available at www.shpa-il.org • Introduction to Service Philosophies in PSH Webinar • August 2, 2012 – 10:00 am • Central and Southern IL Resident Conference • August 1, 2012 • 9:30 am – 4:30 am • Springfield • Northern IL Resident Conference • August 15th, 2012 • 9:30 am – 4:30 pm • Chicago
Contact Information Aaron Eldridge, Sr., SHPA email@example.com Lindsey Bishop Gilmore, CSH firstname.lastname@example.org