The Homeless Action Center (HAC) is a free legal services program for people who are homeless or at serious risk of homelessness. Our focus is on the most severe situations – chronically homeless individuals. HAC's signature approach is advocacy that overcomes the obstacles to essential safety net services that provide nutrition, access to healthcare, and increased options for housing. HAC’s clients are overwhelmingly poor, disabled, ill, and marginalized. In 2019, HAC won for its clients $8 million dollars in retroactive benefits as well as $500,000 in ongoing monthly benefits. These are federal dollars that boost local economies and reduce the burden on local taxpayers.
When shelter-at-home directives were handed down, HAC adjusted quickly. With help from our technical staff, all HAC attorneys and advocates now have 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 to use the office fax machines remotely. 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.
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. Although we can no longer provide this extensive service because of shelter-in-place, we have continued to provide guidance by telephone, to people with the most serious problems.
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. That is why your donations are so important! Thank you!