SOAR December eNews

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December - 2015
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Contact Us SSA Webinars SOAR Voices Blog

SOAR TA Center Presents at APHA Annual Meeting

On November 3, 2015, Jen Elder, National Policy and Partnerships Coordinator at the SOAR TA Center, presented at the American Public Health Association's (APHA's) Annual Meeting in Chicago, Illinois. Her presentation, "Utilizing Social Security Disability Benefits to end Veteran Homelessness: Results from the Field," outlined lessons learned from a yearlong SOAR pilot with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Information and resources from the session are available here.
750 Logo
During the APHA Annual Meeting, the Caucus on Homelessness sponsored a fundraiser for the 750 Club Apartment Adoption Project and heard from Tracy Baim, one of the project coordinators. This effort raises funds to provide private apartments for youth moving out of transitional housing, with a focus on LGBTQ youth. Every $750 raised will support approximately one youth in one apartment for one month.

National Homeless Persons' Memorial Day 

National Homeless Persons' Memorial Day, a day to honor all those who died on the streets this past year, will take place on Monday, December 21, 2015 -- the longest night of the year. Get involved by attending or hosting an event, and use the hashtag #HomelessMemorial to spread the word about National Homeless Persons' Memorial Day on social media.

If your organization is holding an event to honor National Homeless Persons' Memorial Day, share it with our Twitter account, @SOARWorks, and we will retweet it to our followers.

Sharing Our Successes


Congratulations to One Roof in Birmingham, Alabama for being highlighted in the Birmingham News article, "St. Paul and the Broken Bones frontman and One Roof partner in an effort to eradicate homelessness!" The article describes One Roof's successful use of the SOAR program:

"Among One Roof's most successful programs is SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access, and Recovery program -- also known as SOAR -- which employs a social worker specially trained to assist the chronically homeless. Applying for SSI/SSDI is a complicated process, and if you're mentally or physically disabled, the chances for you to successfully complete the application are extremely rare -- around 20 percent -- according to [Executive Director Michelle Farley].

SOAR's social workers are changing lives. Farley shares a story about a homeless woman diagnosed with breast cancer. The woman had filed for disability on her own, but her application wasn't approved. When SOAR's social worker stepped in, the woman's application was approved with an expedited process. With the benefits approval came access to subsidized housing. And after successfully fighting cancer, within 3 years she was off benefits, back to work, and paying her own way.

'She probably would have died on the streets without this assistance,' Farley says. 'That is what we're talking about with good assistance.'"

Congratulations, One Roof! Keep on SOARing!


Congratulations to Swords to Plowshares' SOAR Benefits Specialist, Carmen Santoni, for the recent notification of an approved SSI claim! Carmen shares,

 "As you may recall, I had recently forwarded the disappointing copy of the notice regarding the applicant's SSDI claim. It took all my skill and then some to keep the applicant (and myself) positive and hopeful about this, but they received a favorable determination that will change their life going forward! The applicant was informed that they will receive $973.40 monthly retroactive to May 2015, the month they were released from prison after 16 years and came to our office totally hopeless and dejected in general.

Thank you so much for teaching me how to help someone with so many odds against them! The applicant is over the moon and I am invigorated and motivated to no end! We are now working very hard at identifying suitable permanent housing for the applicant with their new income and preparing them to live independently for the first time in so many years! SOAR definitely DOES WORK!!!"

Congratulations, Carmen! We are so proud of your success! Carmen recently wrote a SOAR Voices blog post about her experiences learning the SOAR process, titled "Learning to 'SOAR' in San Francisco: My Journey of Discovery."

If you have a SOAR-related success story to share, e-mail

Federal Updates

TIP 55: Behavioral Health Services for People Who Are Homeless

SAMHSA has released TIP 55: Behavioral Health Services for People Who Are Homeless. This publication equips those who provide services to people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness and who need or are in substance abuse or mental illness treatment with guidelines to support their care. The publication discusses prevention and treatment as part of integrated care.  

Job Postings

Topeka, Kansas: Valeo Behavioral Health Care is hiring a full-time SOAR Team Case Manager. The SOAR Team Case Manager will assist eligible clients in the SSI/SSDI application process using the SOAR model.

Raleigh, North Carolina: SouthLight Healthcare seeks a full-time SOAR specialist. The desired candidate will have a good working knowledge of the SSI/SSDI application and eligibility process.

Learn more about these postings on the SOARWorks website. Do you have a job posting you would like to share with the SOAR community? E-mail it to!


Funding Corner

Network for Good: The Year-End Fundraising Resources 

The Network for Good has released an eGuide titled Year-End Fundraising Survival Guide, and a Year-End Campaign Worksheet. The eGuide provides strategies and resources for agencies to connect with donors and get the most out of their December giving campaigns. The worksheet will help agencies create a plan for their year-end fundraising efforts.

Recent Stories from the SOAR Voices Blog

The Battle Against Burnout!!

Emotionally exhausted, detached, going through the motions, insensitive, irritable -- not exactly what we thought we would be feeling when we first imagined a life in human services! What seemed like a great idea -- going into human services because we wanted to make the world a better place -- has left us feeling tired, disappointed, frustrated, and depressed.

Putting the Pieces Together
I first met Michael* in December 2014; at that time he slept on the streets in downtown Columbia. He arrived to Columbia a year earlier from Louisiana, where he lived in the woods for over a decade. Michael had a long-term history of homelessness due to a diagnosis of Bipolar disorder with psychotic features, and he struggled with near-constant auditory hallucinations.


Jason (not his legal name) previously lost his SSI benefits for more than a year, due to incarceration and not being available for the recertification process. He was also chronically homeless, not receiving psychiatric treatment, and not taking medication to help impede his mental illness symptoms.

Upcoming Events

SOAR Webinar: Online Course Walkthrough - Save the Date!

On Thursday, January 14, 2016, the SOAR TA Center will hold a webinar that provides a walkthrough of the SOAR Online Course. Details will be provided in the coming weeks!

2016 Leadership Academy Dates

  • February 9-11: San Diego, California
  • May 3-5: New Jersey
  • August 30-September 1: Charleston, South Carolina
See your state liaison for the Leadership Academy application!
In This Issue

Upcoming Events


SOAR Webinar: Online Course Walkthrough -- Save the Date!

2016 Leadership Academy Dates