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June 2016

CABHI: SOAR and IPS Learning Community and Pilot

In May 2016, the SAMHSA SOAR TA Center launched a learning community and pilot with 12 states (AZ, CO, CT, IL, MA, MI, MS, NV, OH, TN, UT, WI) that received the Cooperative Agreement to Benefit Homeless Individuals (CABHI) States Enhancement Grant. This year-long pilot aims to integrate SOAR and Individual Placement and Support (IPS) employment services such that individuals receiving income support services are served by one or both programs, as meets the person's needs. Through this, we aim to reduce the gap in income support services for those individuals seeking SSI/SSDI and/or employment and to reduce homelessness by creating a system with streamlined access to income support services. Kristin Lupfer, Jen Elder, and Pam Heine of the SOAR TA Center are facilitating the pilot and will be updating the SOAR community as this pilot progresses! 

West Orange, New Jersey Leadership Academy

West Orange NJ LA
From May 3-5, 2016, the SOAR TA Center facilitated a SOAR Leadership Academy in West Orange, New Jersey. Pam Heine, Abigail Lemon, and Matt Canuteson of the SOAR TA Center facilitated the training. There were 24 participants representing 15 states (AR, CA, FL, ID, IL, KS, MA, MD, MI, MO, NJ, NY, OR, TN, TX). Participants were joined by Former Governor of the State of New Jersey and current State Senator Richard J. Codey, New Jersey Disability Determination Services Professional Relations Chief Alex Balaban, Social Security Administration's (SSA's) New York Regional Public Affairs Office Representative Everett Lo, SSA Public Affairs Specialists Simone Herndon and Jarita Walker, and SSA District Manager from the local Trenton office, David Vinokurov. All of the state and federal representatives provided expert guidance throughout the Leadership Academy on Social Security policies and the need for programs like SOAR.

Throughout the 3 days of training, there was great enthusiasm for SOAR! We look forward to the local leads returning to their communities and SOARing! Congratulations to our new graduates!

Call for Collaboration: SOAR in Tribal Communities 

The SOAR TA Center is interested in knowing if any SOAR providers are currently working with American Indian/Alaska Native communities. If so, please contact the SOAR TA Center at; we are interested in learning more about your collaboration.

Sharing our Successes


Cindy A. Schwartz, Project Director of the Jail Diversion Program at the Eleventh Judicial Criminal Mental Health Project in Florida wrote in to share the successes their program has had with applying the SOAR model in justice settings.

The Eleventh Judicial Criminal Mental Health Project - Entitlement Unit has three Entitlement Specialists: Amanda Rubin Toral, Michelle Espinosa-Clark, and Samantha DuBarry. The program has achieved incredible outcomes: 500 decisions with a 90 percent approval rate and an average of 38 days to decision. Fantastic work, all!

Cindy also shared a success story from one of the justice-involved individuals who applied for benefits using the SOAR model:

"This individual has been in and out of the justice system since he was a minor. At 52, he was living at a homeless shelter in Miami and had no hope for recovery. As he was assisted with completing the Social Security application, he said, 'This is the most depressing thing I've ever done.' The questions about personal possessions and finances caused him great anxiety, and he was confronted with the realization that he had nothing. With the assistance of the SOAR Entitlement Specialist, he was provided support and guidance to help him through the process of application. After being approved for benefits, this individual hugged the SOAR Entitlement Specialist. He finally was able to feel a sense of hope. He says that the staff helped him to find hope for a better life." What an incredible story! Thank you for sharing, Cindy!

Do you have a success story you would like to share with the SOAR community? E-mail it to!

Federal Updates

SAMHSA Resource: Reentry Resources for Individuals, Providers, Communities, and States

Individuals with mental and substance use disorders involved with the criminal justice system can face many obstacles accessing quality behavioral health services. For individuals with behavioral health issues reentering the community after incarceration, those obstacles include a lack of health care, job skills, education, stable housing, and poor connection with community behavioral health providers. This may jeopardize their recovery and increase their probability of relapse and/or re-arrest.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Data Archive

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and RTI International have launched the redesigned Substance Abuse and Mental Health Data Archive (SAMHDA) website with new designs, streamlined menus, and simplified navigation. SAMHDA provides public-use data files, file documentation, and access to restricted-use data files to support a better understanding of the nation's substance abuse and mental health research data.

Funding Corner

Building Your Future: SOAR Sustainability Self-Assessment and Funding Plan Template

The SOAR TA Center is pleased to provide this two-part tool designed to help you assess and plan for actions to sustain and grow SOAR in your state, region, or locality. These tools should be used with the Funding and Sustainability resources on the SOAR website and should be discussed with your SOAR TA Center Liaison, who can provide individual support specific to your needs. View the Sustainability Self-Assessment and the Sustainability Funding Plan tools.

Bank of America Charitable Foundation Funding Opportunities

The Bank of America Charitable Foundation is a great potential funding source for SOAR programs across the country, as its list of current funding priorities includes Services for People Experiencing Homelessness and Benefits Access and Referrals. The website describes the foundation's efforts in Benefits Access saying, "...transitioning financially distressed, low-to-moderate income individuals and families towards financial stability through bundled services in two core areas--access to benefits and support resources."

Walmart Foundation - State Giving Program

The Walmart Foundation's State Giving Program works to "create opportunities so people can live better," providing grants to 501(c)(3) organizations ranging from $25,000 to $200,000. The State Giving Program invests in all 50 states; Washington, D.C.; and Puerto Rico. The majority of the funding goes to support human services, often supporting programs that provide services and supports so that people are able to access and retain stable housing.

Recent Stories from the SOAR Voices Blog

SOAR Spotlight: Matt Canuteson

Get to know SOAR TA Center Liaison Matt Canuteson in this new blog. Find out what states he works with, his favorite travel story, and his favorite SOAR success story!

Expanding SOAR through Continua of Care

Since 2012, the SOAR TA Center has offered a competitive technical assistance award open to Housing and Urban Development Continua of Care nationwide. This award is a chance for the SOAR TA Center to provide targeted technical assistance to new areas of the country that are in need of or are interested in expanding SOAR. 

Client SOARs with MIRCI

I first met Jean* in January 2014; she had recently been hospitalized for several weeks for symptoms relating to her severe and persistent mental illness. Jean enrolled in outpatient mental health treatment and housing services through the Mental Illness Recovery Center, Inc. (MIRCI). Due to her severe mental illness, Jean made impulsive decisions that negatively impacted her life, causing her to lose MIRCI housing and once again become homeless. 


Final 2016 Leadership Academy Date

August 30-September 1: Charleston, South Carolina. See your state liaison for more information!

SOARing Over Lunch Conference Calls

June 14, 2016; 1:00-2:00 p.m. ET
The first SOARing Over Lunch Conference Call will take place this June! The SOAR TA Center is hosting a series of informal monthly calls designed to help support SOAR efforts across the country. Participants can call in to ask about any SOAR-related question they may have. These is no agenda set in advance for these calls, but we do ask that you submit questions and/or topics you would like covered in advance of the calls. Call/Log-in information:

Save the Date! SOAR Webinar on Appeals: Hearing Skills Building

June 22, 2016; 3:00-4:30 p.m. ET
Save the Date! The SOAR Webinar on Appeals: Hearing Skills Building will be held on June 22, 2016 from 3:00-4:30 p.m. ET and will feature Sarah Anderson of Greater Boston Legal Services and Linda Landry of the Disability Law Center. More information and registration details will be distributed shortly.

SOAR Webinar Archive Available:  OAT has a New Look!

In this webinar, held on May 18, 2016, the SOAR TA Center reviewed the features of the updated Online Application Tracking (OAT) system. The webinar recording is available for on-demand viewing on the SOAR website.

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