Who We Are
People who are homeless are overwhelmingly poor, disabled, ill and marginalized. The Homeless Action Center (HAC) provides no-cost, barrier-free, culturally competent legal representation that makes it possible for people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless to access the maze of social safety net programs that provide a pathway to a better life.
Founded in 1990, the Homeless Action Center (HAC) provides free legal assistance with a range of public benefits programs, including Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Medi-Cal, CalWorks, Cal-Fresh (food stamps) General Assistance (GA) and Cash Assistance Programs for Immigrants (CAPI). We also provide informal advice and referrals for non-benefits related legal issues.
Why HAC Is Needed
Our nation’s commitment to helping the less fortunate is well established. A social safety net has existed for years. To give just two examples, Medi-Cal puts medical and mental health treatment within reach. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) provides modest, but stable, monthly cash support. It pays the equivalent of less than $5.65 per hour for full-time employment, which is enough to qualify for permanent supportive housing.
The application process for these benefits is cumbersome, complicated, bureaucratic and even adversarial. The homeless people served by HAC are overwhelmingly poor, mentally ill, sick and marginalized. Without HAC’s help, they could not navigate the maze of social safety net programs that provide a pathway out of homelessness.
Through HAC’s legal assistance, our clients begin to put their lives back together with sustainable income, healthcare, mental health treatment, housing and restored dignity. HAC is the only program in the Bay Area that specializes in legal services to those who are chronically homeless.
HAC’s Accomplishments in 2017
In 2017, HAC served 3,023 clients and had resolved 2,467 cases by the end of the year. 37% of the resolved cases involved extensive, long-term advocacy and follow-up. 95% of HAC’s clients were suffering from mental illness or physical disability. The majority could be classified as chronically homeless because their homelessness had lasted for more than a year. Average monthly income at intake was $260.
62% of HAC’s clients in 2017 were male and 38 % were female. Ethnicity was African-American (51%), Caucasian (23%), Latino (9%), Asian/Pacific Islander (6%), Native American (2%) and other (9%). 82% were in the 18-59 age group. Youth under 18 were less than 1% of clients while elders 60 and over constituted 17%.
HAC won an SSI case for a homeless client with severe mental illness. Our attorney fought the case for three years! The client was so disillusioned at the beginning he did not even want to apply. Now he will get three years of retroactive benefits and is guaranteed health care!