Question: I saw SOAR training on our Continuum of Care (CoC) application. Should my CoC get involved with SOAR?
Absolutely! The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Continuum of Care Program (CoC) plays a key role in ending homelessness in communities and states. HUD’s description of the program includes: “The Continuum of Care (CoC) Program is designed to promote communitywide commitment to the goal of ending homelessness; provide funding for efforts by nonprofit providers, and State and local governments to quickly rehouse homeless individuals and families while minimizing the trauma and dislocation caused to homeless individuals, families, and communities by homelessness; promote access to and effect utilization of mainstream programs by homeless individuals and families; and optimize self-sufficiency among individuals and families experiencing homelessness” (emphasis added)
SOAR is critical in HUD’s mission to promote access to Social Security disability benefits for individuals with disabling conditions. This access helps promote housing stability and prevents future homelessness for these individuals. As a result, SOAR should be included in local CoC plans to end homelessness.
The Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness (PATH) program is administered by the Center for Mental Health Services, a component of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). PATH is a formula grant to the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. There are nearly 600 local organizations that provide PATH services. PATH provides services to people with serious mental illness, including those with co-occurring substance use disorders, who are experiencing homelessness or at imminent risk of becoming homeless.
PATH and SOAR programs directly complement each other’s work and nearly half of the SOAR State Team Leads are also the State PATH Contacts. The PATH program’s objective to connect individuals to mental health services and stable housing is more easily accomplished when people who are homeless have access to the income and health insurance that comes with Social Security benefits. SOAR provides PATH case managers the tools necessary to expedite access to these benefits, resulting in improved housing and treatment outcomes.