Shelley Housing/Homelessness Q4
People who are homeless have an income from government benefits, and it may be time to investigate whether anyone is exploiting homeless people to obtain those benefits, perhaps through fraud. For example, the Social Security Administration will pay Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits to a “representative payee” who can be a relative or another third party. Living in a shelter or medical treatment facility reduces the SSI benefits paid to the individual. Does that create an incentive for unscrupulous people to enable homeless individuals to live on the streets while acting as their “representative payee” and collecting their benefits? Is there any oversight?
As another example, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration funds an outreach program to increase access to the disability income benefit programs administered by SSA “for eligible adults who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness and have a serious mental illness, medical impairment and/or a co-occurring substance abuse disorder.” If it is possible that public benefits are being intercepted by people who are exploiting the homeless to collect government cash, we should find out and do something about it.