⚠ Notice – HAC’s Current Office Hours
HAC offices are currently closed to the public except by appointment. However, clients may pick up their mail and receive legal assistance on the sidewalk Monday through Thursday from 1 – 5p. HAC’s legal staff continue to work on their cases from home offices.
During this pandemic, our priority is the health, safety, and well-being of our community, and especially our clients. We will update this notice regularly.
HAC Continues to Serve Clients During COVID-19 Pandemic
HAC adjusted quickly when shelter-at-home directives were handed down. With help from our technical staff, all HAC attorneys and advocates now have fully functioning home offices so they can continue to work on their most critical cases. They can conduct intakes over the phone. They can obtain medical records, assist clients with obtaining medical care, and communicate with people at key government agencies. Staff are able to check voice messages from home and are able to use the office fax machines remotely. We can also have calls to their work numbers forwarded directly to another phone. Mail is forwarded to staff members so they do not need to come to the office. Though hearings are for the most part postponed, many appeals can be done online.
If absolutely necessary, staff members may leave their homes to visit clients or go to the office. They are allowed to travel because HAC provides an essential service.
Many of HAC’s homeless clients receive their mail at a HAC office. HAC continues to provide mail service from our offices each Monday through Thursday from 1-5 pm. (Staff distributing mail wear protective gear and practice social distancing.) During those hours, staff are also available to answer the phones and provide information and assistance, as well as to return calls. If clients drop in during these limited service hours with an urgent Supplemental Security Income (SSI) issue, they can be connected by phone to an attorney or advocate who can assist with a three-way call to a Social Security office.
For years, HAC has offered 25 drop-in hours each week at each of its offices. In 2019, 1,860 people took advantages of this service. Most needed assistance in the three legal areas most related to homelessness: income maintenance, health and long-term medical care, and housing. We look forward to resuming drop-in assistance quickly when shelter-at-home requirements are lifted.
As the situation continues to change rapidly, our priority is the health, safety, and well-being of our community, and especially our clients; we are doing everything possible to continue to make progress on our most important cases during this difficult time.
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 sensitive 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!