A national network of funders supporting strategic, innovative, and effective solutions to homelessness

Dividends of a Hand Up: Public Benefits of Moving Indigent Adults with Disabilities onto SSI


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Counties in California bear large hidden costs for individuals with disabilities who are indigent or homeless. A large share of this cost is health related – costs that would be paid through Medi-Cal if the individuals were receiving Supplemental Social Security Income (SSI).

In the typical monthly General Relief/General Assistance statewide caseload, an estimated 51,000 individuals have disabilities, but are not receiving SSI. Eligibility rates for SSI increase markedly with age, rising from less than 20% among recipients 18-25 years of age to half among recipients 46-55 years of age. California counties could save $42 million per month and private hospitals could save another $13 million if eligible General Relief recipients with disabilities in the typical monthly caseload were moved onto SSI.

County health costs for indigent residents will be ameliorated when the Medicaid Expansion provisions of the new Federal Health Law take effect in 2014 (and to a lesser extent by the 1115 Medicaid waiver), but the extent and amount of federal offsets are not known at this time. Counties are likely to face some level of continuing costs for these residents, and there are likely to be continuing financial benefits for counties’ healthcare and GR budgets when low-income individuals with disabilities are enrolled in SSI.

This study from the Economic Roundtable examines opportunities for counties to avoid costs by moving individuals with disabilities who are General Relief recipients, medically indigent hospital patients, and homeless hospital patients onto SSI and Medi-Cal.

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We joined Funders Together because we believe in the power of philanthropy to play a major role in ending homelessness, and we know we have much to learn from funders across the country.

-Christine Marge, Director of Housing and Financial Stability at United Way of Greater Los Angeles

I am thankful for the local partnerships here in the Pacific Northwest that we’ve been able to create and nurture thanks to the work of Funders Together. Having so many of the right players at the table makes our conversations – and all of our efforts – all the richer and more effective.

-David Wertheimer, Deputy Director at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Very often a lack of jobs and money is not the cause of poverty, but the symptom. The cause may lie deeper in our failure to give our fellow citizens a fair chance to develop their own capacities, in a lack of education and training, in a lack of medical care and housing, in a lack of decent communities in which to live and bring up their children.

-President Lyndon B. Johnson, 1964 State of the Union Address

Funders Together has given me a platform to engage the other funders in my community. Our local funding community has improved greatly to support housing first models and align of resources towards ending homelessness.

-Leslie Strnisha, Vice President at Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland

Our family foundation convenes local funders and key community stakeholders around strategies to end homelessness in Houston. Funders Together members have been invaluable mentors to us in this effort, traveling to our community to share their expertise and examples of best practices from around the nation.

-Nancy Frees Fountain, Managing Director at The Frees Foundation

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