Supervisor Mark Farrell to Introduce Law to Maximize Enrollment in Public Benefits for San Francisco’s Most Vulnerable

SAN FRANCISCO – At today’s Board of Supervisors meeting, Supervisor Mark Farrell will introduce legislation to help the homeless and the City’s most vulnerable maximize enrollment in public benefits by creating new requirements for housing providers and the Human Services Agency of San Francisco (HSA).

Supervisor Mark Farrell to Introduce Law to Maximize Enrollment in Public Benefits for San Francisco’s Most Vulnerable

SAN FRANCISCO – At today’s Board of Supervisors meeting, Supervisor Mark Farrell will introduce legislation to help the homeless and the City’s most vulnerable maximize enrollment in public benefits by creating new requirements for housing providers and the Human Services Agency of San Francisco (HSA).

“Public benefits help people secure their most basic needs – especially those working to exit homelessness,” said Supervisor Mark Farrell. “From providing a source of income, to food, to healthcare, or connections and pathways to education and employment opportunities – public benefits provide a critical life-line for those working to get on a path towards self-sufficiency.”

Last November, the City Services Auditor completed one of the most comprehensive reports regarding HSA and their supportive housing portfolio that serves the homeless. The report noted that they had a difficult time collecting the data needed to assess the percentage of supportive housing clients on public benefits because some of the data didn’t exist, or wasn’t tracked by HSA. From the data they were able to collect, the report noted that approximately 250 adults, mostly seniors, could qualify for In Home Support Services (IHSS), but currently do not receive the benefit. They also found that a high number of parents in HSA’s family buildings could apply for CalWorks on behalf of their child or children, but were not enrolled.

“Maximizing enrollment in public benefits for those who are eligible, but not enrolled, will ultimately save the City millions of taxpayer dollars in the long-run,” said Supervisor Mark Farrell.

Supervisor Farrell’s ordinance carries new requirements for homeless service providers and HSA. The ordinance requires that homeless service providers report back to the City within the first six-months after a new supportive housing client has been placed in a housing unit on what benefits the client has applied for and what they are eligible for. Providers must also produce an annual report that will be submitted to the Mayor and Board of Supervisors that must provide information regarding:

  • The percentage of clients enrolled in all of the public benefits for which they are eligible
  • The percentage of clients who have applied for all of the public benefits for which they are eligible
  • A full summary of the reasonable efforts made to help the client enroll in all the public benefits for which the client qualifies for
  • And, if the clients are not enrolled in the maximum public benefits for which they are eligible - an explanation as to why a higher percentage of clients are not enrolled and a description and documented plan for how the provider will enroll more of its clients in the public benefits for which they qualify.

For HSA, the ordinance mandates that the agency create a worksheet to share with the housing providers that lists the criteria for eligibility for each public benefit. They must also share the worksheet publicly on their website for people to access, and must regularly update the worksheet as any changes are made to laws governing public benefits. Additionally, HSA will be required to conduct two or more audits of housing providers on an annual basis to determine compliance with the ordinance.

Supervisor Farrell’s legislation will specifically help more seniors and families living in HSA’s housing units get the benefits they need and deserve by creating a process and requirements for how they will be targeted by service providers to ensure that they are not losing out on benefits for which they qualify for.

Supervisor Farrell’s legislation will be heard in Committee after the Board returns from its August recess.

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