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About Us & Our Mission

HAP Helps Client Break Down Road Blocks to Find Housing

By Kara Holzworth

When some San Francisco police officers suggested to Keith Savage that he go to Project Homeless Connect (PHC), he was apprehensive. Savage, who had been homeless for years, still decided to give it a chance.

At PHC, he found the San Francisco Homeless Outreach Team (HOT). HOT would help get him on the fast track to housing, if he got a few things done, including applying for public benefits.

Savage had found it difficult to navigate the different city agencies and bureaucracies; and without someone to provide guidance or advocacy, things were unresolved. One such matter was his SSI application. Savage learned about the Homeless Advocacy Project (HAP), a program of BASF’s Volunteer Legal Services Program and turned to them for help.

Along with a HAP supervising attorney, two interns assisted him and helped him understand the process of applying for SSI. Even with help, he was denied SSI on his first application. Some cases do not make it to the appeals level, but Savage has decided to work with HAP to appeal, thus greatly improving his chances.

HAP also helped Savage apply for General Assistance (GA). To apply he first needed an original copy of his birth certificate. HAP staff worked diligently with the records department in New York, where he was born. HAP also got the vouchers he needed to receive his birth certificate and California ID at a reduced rate. Although both of these tasks seem simple, they are quite bureaucratic and often the roadblock many homeless individuals face on their path to regaining stability.

Finally, after 13 long months of red tape and paperwork, he got an apartment. Without the assistance and advocacy first from HOT, and ultimately HAP, much more time would have passed before he was housed and receiving benefits. Savage moved into his new apartment in July and is awaiting his SSI hearing, which will determine whether his appeal has been granted.

Things seem to be looking up. However, when asked how he feels about his new home, he quickly admits that he does “not want to get too happy about it…that’s when things are taken away from you.” He’s decided to take things one day at a time, and to roll with the punches.

Learn about the Homeless Advocacy Project.