Disability, Unemployment and Homelessness – Program Support
Homeless service providers are well aware that Washington has the fifth-highest prevalence of homelessness in the nation, with 9,600 people living unsheltered and more than 11,000 people living in temporary homeless housing. Did you also know that 12.9% of Washington’s residents, 942,318 individuals, live with a disability? Add to that the pre and post-pandemic unemployment rates, and the impact on a person’s life is overwhelming.
The Department of Commerce sponsors two financial programs that can help people with disabilities avoid homelessness.
The Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) savings plan and a special needs trust program called the Developmental Disabilities Endowment Trust Fund (DDETF) allow beneficiaries to accumulate assets without jeopardizing their public benefits like SSI, SNAP and HUD housing. The funds in these accounts can supplement public benefit programs to help a person achieve a better quality of life like seeking or keeping employment, transitioning between living situations, paying for education, paying for medical deductions and co-pays, etc. Survivors of brain injuries, folks with mental illnesses in crisis, and people with developmental disabilities may end up living on the streets when things go awry. If they had an ABLE or DDETF account — family, friends, and case managers — might be able to get them stabilized faster and avoid prolonged homelessness. Check out these programs at https://www.washingtonstateable.com/ and https://ddetf.wa.gov/.
You are probably aware there are resources available to get people with disabilities stabilized, housed and either employed or engaged in their communities through the Pathways to Housing website. It is a one-stop resource to help a person navigate the world of housing. It might be the perfect resource to reference as you help coach someone off the streets, through the web of services, and into their new normal.