What happens when I complete the HRA application?
(Column: Ask the Housing Experts)
Daniel J. Stern, Housing Consultant, Center for Urban Community Services (CUCS)
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Answer: In order to access any type of supportive housing designed for people living with mental illness in New York City, a completed HRA 2000 application must be sent to and approved by the NYC Human Resources Administration’s Office of Health and Mental Health Services (HRA/OHMHS).

If you need referrals to agencies that can help you fill out the application or if you need an application mailed or faxed to you, call (212) 801-3333. The HRA 2000 can also be printed from our website at www.cucs.org.

Once you have received the HRA 2000, reviewed and completed it with your worker, it must be mailed or submitted electronically to HRA/OHMHS with the following documents:

Psychosocial Evaluation (within 90 days of the application)

Psychiatric Evaluation (within 90 days of the application)

Tuberculosis Clearance (PPD test with negative results within 6 months, or a negative chest X-Ray done within one year of the application)

It is important to note that HRA/OHMHS does not accept faxes, so the completed packet must be mailed to the address listed on the application. Submission of the applicant’s housing preferences and “Authorization for Release of Confidential HIV-Related Information” forms that are attached to the back of the application are optional, but it is suggested that they are completed and submitted. It is vital to keep a copy of the HRA application and all the documents mentioned above for future reference and use.

If the HRA 2000 is submitted by mail, HRA/OHMHS will review the application and fax a determination letter back to your worker within 10-15 business days. If your worker does not hear from HRA within this period, he or she should call HRA at (212) 495-2900 to follow up. If the application is submitted electronically, your worker often receives the approval information the next business day.

If you are approved, the determination letter states which level(s) you are approved for and if you are NY/NY eligible, which means that you currently are or recently have been homeless on the street or in a shelter (homelessness prior to hospitalization and/or incarceration counts). The letter will also offer a list of services that are recommended or required (e.g., 24-hour supervision, case management). If your application is denied, the determination letter will state why this decision was made. This information can be used to correct the application so it can be re-submitted. HRC is able to assist callers in discovering what steps need to be taken for an approved HRA 2000 application.

Once you are approved, you should review the approval letter with your worker and decide which model of housing best meets your needs and to which specific programs to apply.

The housing provider intake staff will review the application and will contact you for an interview if it appears in the “packet review” that you are eligible for their housing program. Most programs require two interviews, but this may vary; some providers will not interview unless there is a vacancy pending. Because there are so many people seeking housing, if you are interviewed and accepted, it is likely you will be placed on a waiting list until a vacancy becomes available. The HRA/OHMHS approval is valid for 90 days. If housing has not been found within this time, the HRA/OHMHS worker that sent the approval should be contacted to request a two-month extension. An extension should be requested prior to the expiration of the approval period. Additionally, an extension should be requested even when you have been accepted and are on a waiting list.

Applications should continue to be sent out until you are accepted into a housing program that meets your preferences and needs. Accessing supportive housing will require advocacy and follow-up with housing providers.
CUCS’ Housing Resource Center (HRC) publishes the Vacancy and Information Update every two weeks, which lists all the supportive housing programs in New York City, the contact information and any vacancies that are available. Vacancies listed in the Vacancy and Information Update are often already filled by people on the program’s wait list. If you have questions about different program models or if you have specific needs or preferences, HRC offers phone-based consultation. To reach a housing consultant call (212) 801-3333 or www.cucs.org.
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