May 4, 2015
WHAT HAS SEATTLE COMMUNITY LAW CENTER BEEN DOING?
871 Clients served in 2014 / 153 Cases in progress
281 Cases completed in 2014 / 162 Rejected cases due to lack of resources
There are over 9,000 people in King County facing the realities of homelessness, many of whom are living with disabilities, trying to navigate barriers within governmental systems and fighting to be able to pay for food and shelter and medical treatment. At the same time and on the other side of the barrier, there is over $150 million waiting to be distributed to these very people. With your help the Seattle Community Law Center can be the navigational light and guide our community to the $150 million.
On average, SCLC spends $500 to help one person navigate the Social Security system. The actions we take with the people we serve establish a consistent monthly income – usually $733 a month and access to Medicaid or Medicare. Without this income the risk of homelessness becomes reality, and in order to get medical treatment our clients rely on unfunded emergency services that strain the local economy. With your investment, together we can secure economic and medical stability for our community.
Meeting People Where They Are At
Let’s start with “Darren” who had a stroke which limited physical function in one side of his body, changed his ability to complete full sentences or remember things, and it also presented other cognitive challenges for him. After being denied disability benefits and without a home, Darren and SCLC found each other through a local homeless shelter. After several months working together, SCLC and Darren proved that he was eligible to receive disability benefits from Social Security. Darren needed to attend one last meeting at his local Social Security office in order to start receiving benefits. Due to the stroke, Darren needed multiple reminders about the time and place of the meeting, including the morning of the meeting. He traveled by bus to 3rd and Spring where the bus dropped off, but his local Social Security office is at the bottom of the hill on 2nd Avenue. After waiting, Darren’s SCLC attorney realized that his bus let off one block away and that he might be lost. She ran up and down the steep hill twice and found Darren wandering the top of the hill, confused. They walked to the Social Security office together, she encouraged him through security at the front door of the Jackson Federal building, and guided him to the local office where Darren was awarded the disability coverage he was eligible for. Darren now has healthcare to get the attention he needs and a modest monthly income to pay for housing and food.
“Lisa” is a 97 year-old woman who receives SSI and is dealing with end of life planning. In doing so, she had created a savings account to pay for a funeral and burial plot. Lisa received notice from Social Security telling her that the small amount of money she had saved made her ineligible for SSI, and alleged that she owed Social Security $10,000. Lisa and her SCLC attorney presented her case to Social Security to show that their calculations and findings were incorrect. Without the help of an attorney Lisa would not have even appealed this notice and she would currently be without any income.
Last weekend, I was walking through Pike Place Market and I met “Mike”. I stopped to talk with Mike for a moment and he asked if I would buy him a milkshake. It was evident that his leg was causing him pain and making it difficult for him to walk; he shared the story of the injury and how the injury to his leg was now causing serious problems with his spine and that he was unable to work as a longshoreman any longer. He told me he was staying at a local shelter. I asked him whether he knew about Social Security benefits and whether he had applied. He told me that he had applied, but that the process was impossible so he lived on the street and relied on emergency medical services when absolutely necessary.
The root of the many problems faced by Mike, Lisa, and Darren is access to reliable monthly income and healthcare. Together we can solve the root of the problem for people with severe disabilities. Please use the enclosed donation form and give from your heart. With your help our clients win by getting the sustainable resources they need, our community wins by accessing the federal funds dedicated to this solution and you win by knowing you are part of the solution to improving our community.
Last year, we at SCLC rejected 162 people with no other place to refer them to. Further, although we are serving approximately 800 people per year, we estimate that there are 8500 people in King County that need our help each year. We plan to be able to serve any person with a disability who needs our services. Your support will help us give every person in our community who is living with a disability and facing the risk or reality of homelessness the representation they need to gain the financial and medical stability available to them.
To learn more please call me or visit us at http://www.seattlecommlaw.org
Thank you for helping us all win,
Alex KF Doolittle
Seattle Community Law Center
1404 East Yesler Way, Suite 203, Seattle WA 98122
Ph: 206-686-7252, x104 | Fax: 206-903-0675