Because of changes in Washington, the social safety net is under attack. The programs our clients rely on are at actual and imminent risk. Social Security, Medi-Cal, Unemployment Benefits, VA benefits, HUD-funded housing and housing subsidies (Section 8 and Shelter Plus Care), VA housing subsidies and the Affordable Care Act are all threatened.
HAC is the only legal services program in the Bay Area that focuses solely on benefits advocacy for those who are homeless or at serious risk. We are in a unique position to monitor the direct effect of government programs and policies on the plight of the homeless. Our initiatives to protect our clients will take at least three forms:
First, our attorneys and advocates will draw upon our accumulated expertise to scrutinize restrictions or changes as they emerge. We will research, challenge and search for alternatives. We will make sure that everyone on our staff is well-informed about new tactics and strategies.
Second, we will initiate action. We will reach out to other legal services programs to marshal relevant facts and develop local efforts to prevent the demolition of needed programs. Although the mission of HAC is not litigation, we can bring facts and developments to the attention of those that do litigate. And we can help create coalitions to support such efforts.
Third, we will advise colleagues from other legal services programs who are considering or engaged in litigation involving homeless people. HAC will participate, as appropriate, as organizational plaintiffs in such litigation.
Our long-term objective: Through wise and solid decisions and appropriate action under the law, HAC will help to prevent, limit, delay, restrict or void policies that actively harm our clients and homeless people throughout the nation. If implementation of such policies cannot be prevented, at least their harmful effects will be minimized.