IHI's Benefits Specialist
Can you imagine living with no income? If you are lucky enough to live in a rent subsidized apartment and receive food stamps each month, your basic needs will be met but what if you need to take the bus to a medical appointment? How do you pay for toothpaste and toilet paper, which aren't covered by food stamps?

IHI owns several apartment buildings that offer rent-subsidized homes to people with zero incomes, most of whom have experienced homelessness and have a disability. We connect people with local service agencies and community resources to access toiletries, supplemental food, and other assistance. We also distribute bus passes, winter clothing, and help with cash emergencies. While our residents are lucky to have this support, it is difficult and often demoralizing to be completely dependent on others for one's most basic and personal needs.

IHI does more than help our residents survive week to week. We help people secure an income and become financially independent. For those who can work, we assist with job searches and purchase basic tools, such as workboots and eyeglasses, that allow someone to start a job. Although many of our residents' disabilities prevent them from working, they are eligible for Social Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Income (SSDI). Unfortunately the application process for these benefits is notoriously complicated and difficult to navigate: nationally, only 37% of individuals who apply are approved on initial application. For people who have recently been homeless that number is even smaller: 10-15%. An appeal can take two years with only a slim chance of success.

IHI has as trained resident services coordinator to provide residents with a skilled support as they navigate the various application processes to secure benefits such as SSI/SSDI, Medicaid/Medicare, survivor's benefits, payee services, and in-home care. We also help residents understand and maintain their benefits, which is critical.