WSR 04-02-049

PROPOSED RULES

DEPARTMENT OF

SOCIAL AND HEALTH SERVICES
(Economic Services Administration)

[ Filed January 5, 2004, 4:25 p.m. ]

Original Notice.

Preproposal statement of inquiry was filed as WSR 03-11-089.

Title of Rule: WAC 388-436-0002 If my family has an emergency, can I get help from DSHS to get or keep our housing or utilities?

Purpose: The amendments will change the number of allowable issuances under the additional requirements for emergent needs (AREN) program.

Statutory Authority for Adoption: RCW 74.04.050 and 74.08.090.

Statute Being Implemented: RCW 74.04.050.

Summary: The amendments will change the payment limit and number of allowable issuances under the additional requirements for emergent needs (AREN) program. The revisions are needed to ensure that the department serves as many needy families as possible without overspending AREN allotments.

Name of Agency Personnel Responsible for Drafting, Implementation and Enforcement: Amber Gillum, 1009 College S.E., Lacey, WA 98504, (360) 413-3089.

Name of Proponent: Department of Social and Health Services, governmental.

Rule is not necessitated by federal law, federal or state court decision.

Explanation of Rule, its Purpose, and Anticipated Effects: See Title of Rule, Purpose, and Summary above.

Proposal Changes the Following Existing Rules: Proposal amends WAC 388-436-0002 If my family has an emergency, can I get help from DSHS to get or keep our housing or utilities? The amendments: (a) Allow clients unlimited AREN issuances within a twelve month period, as long as the total payment does not exceed $750; (b) allow the department to approve payments above the $750 limit for health and safety reasons; and (c) remove obsolete language.

No small business economic impact statement has been prepared under chapter 19.85 RCW. This proposed rule does not have an economic impact on small businesses, it only affects DSHS clients.

RCW 34.05.328 does not apply to this rule adoption. These amendments are exempt as allowed under RCW 34.05.328 (5)(b)(vii) which states in-part, "[t]his section does not apply to ... rules of the department of social and health services relating only to client medical or financial eligibility and rules concerning liability for care of dependents." This rule outlines provisions for the financial eligibility requirements for the additional requirements for emergent needs (AREN) program.

Hearing Location: Office Building 2, Auditorium (DSHS Headquarters), 1155 [1115] Washington Street, Olympia, WA 98504 (public parking at 11th and Washington), on February 10, 2004, at 10:00 a.m.

Assistance for Persons with Disabilities: Contact Andy Fernando, DSHS Rules Coordinator, by February 6, 2004, phone (360) 664-6094, TTY (360) 664-6178, e-mail fernaax@dshs.wa.gov.

Submit Written Comments to: Identify WAC Numbers, DSHS Rules Coordinator, Rules and Policies Assistance Unit, mail to P.O. Box 45850, Olympia, WA 98504-5850, deliver to 4500 10th Avenue S.E., Lacey, WA, fax (360) 664-6185, e-mail fernaax@dshs.wa.gov, by 5:00 p.m., February 10, 2004.

Date of Intended Adoption: Not earlier than February 11, 2004.

January 5, 2004

Brian H. Lindgren, Manager

Rules and Policies Assistance Unit

3231.2
AMENDATORY SECTION(Amending WSR 00-22-064, filed 10/27/00, effective 12/1/00)

WAC 388-436-0002   If my family has an emergency, can I get help from DSHS to get or keep our housing or utilities?   DSHS has a program called additional requirements for emergent needs (AREN). If your family has an emergency and you need ((a one-time cash payment)) assistance to get or keep safe housing or utilities, you may be eligible. The special AREN payment is in addition to the regular monthly cash grant your family may already get.

(1) To get AREN, you must:

(a) Be eligible for temporary assistance for needy families (TANF), state family assistance (SFA), or refugee cash assistance (RCA);

(b) Have an emergency housing or utility need; and

(c) Have a good reason that you do not have enough money to pay your housing or utility costs.

(2) To get AREN, you must be eligible for TANF, SFA, or RCA. This means you must:

(a) Get benefits through TANF, SFA, or RCA. For RCA you must also be pregnant or have an eligible child; or

(b) Apply for TANF, SFA, and RCA, and meet all eligibility criteria including:

(i) The maximum earned income limit under WAC 388-478-0035;

(ii) The requirement that your unearned income not exceed the grant payment standard;

(iii) The requirement that your countable income as defined under WAC 388-450-0162 must be below the payment standard in WAC 388-478-0020 when you have both earned income and unearned income;

(iv) The resource limits under chapter 388-470 WAC;

(v) The program summary rules for either TANF (WAC 388-400-0005); SFA (WAC 388-400-0010); or RCA (WAC 388-400-0030); and

(vi) The requirement that you must be pregnant or have an eligible child.

(3) If you do not get or do not want to get TANF, SFA or RCA, you cannot get AREN to help with ((one-time)) housing or utility costs. We will look to see if you are eligible for diversion cash assistance (DCA) under WAC 388-432-0005.

(4) To get AREN, you must have an emergency housing or utility need. You may get AREN to help pay to:

(a) Prevent eviction or foreclosure;

(b) Get housing if you are homeless or need to leave your home because of domestic violence;

(c) Hook up or prevent a shut off of utilities related to your health and safety. We consider the following utilities to be needed for health and safety:

(i) Electricity or fuel for heating, lighting, or cooking;

(ii) Water;

(iii) Sewer; and

(iv) Basic local telephone service if it is necessary for your basic health and safety. If you receive TANF or SFA, the Washington telephone assistance program (WTAP) may be used to help you pay for basic local telephone service.

(d) Repair damage or defect to your home when it causes a risk to your health or safety:

(i) If you own the home, we may approve AREN for the least expensive method of ending the risk to your health or safety;

(ii) If you do not own the home, you must ask the landlord in writing to fix the damage according to the Residential Landlord-Tenant Act at chapter 59.18 RCW. If the landlord refuses to fix the damage or defect, we may pay for the repair or pay to move you to a different place whichever cost is lower.

(e) If you receive TANF or SFA, WorkFirst support services under WAC 388-310-0800 may be used to help you relocate to new housing to get a job, keep a job, or participate in WorkFirst activities. Nonhousing expenses((,)) that are not covered under AREN((,)) may be paid under WorkFirst support services. This includes expenses such as car repair, diapers, or clothing.

(5) To get AREN, you must have a good reason for not having enough money to pay for your housing or utility costs. You must prove that you:

(a) Did not have money available that you normally use to pay your rent and utilities due to an emergency situation that reduced your income (such as a long-term illness or injury);

(b) Had to use your money to pay for necessary or emergency expenses. Examples of necessary or emergency expenses include:

(i) Basic health and safety needs for shelter, food and clothing;

(ii) Medical care;

(iii) Dental care needed to get a job or because of pain;

(iv) Emergency child care;

(v) Emergency expenses due to a natural disaster, accident, or injury; and

(vi) Other reasonable and necessary expenses.

(c) Are currently homeless; or

(d) Had your family's cash grant reduced or suspended when we budgeted your expected income for the month, but the income will not be available to pay for the need when the payment is due. You must make attempts to negotiate later payments with your landlord or utility company before you can get AREN.

(6) In addition to having a good reason for not having enough money to pay for your costs, you must also explain how you will afford to pay for the on-going need in the future. We may deny AREN if your expenses exceed your income (if you are living beyond your means). We may approve AREN to help you get into housing you can afford.

(7) If you meet the above requirements, we decide the amount we will pay based on the following criteria.

(a) AREN payments may be made up to a maximum of ((fifteen hundred dollars)) seven hundred fifty dollars in a consecutive twelve-month period.

(b) ((We can make the payment all at once or as separate payments over a thirty-day period. The thirty-day period starts with the date of the first payment)) The number of AREN payments you can receive in a twelve-month period is not limited, as long as the total amount does not exceed seven hundred fifty dollars.

(c) The department may approve an AREN payment above the seven hundred fifty dollar maximum for health and safety reasons.

(d) The amount of AREN is in addition to the amount of your monthly TANF, SFA, or RCA cash grant.

(((d))) (e) We will decide the lowest amount we must pay to end your housing or utility emergency. We will contact your landlord, utility company, or other vendor for information to make this decision. We may take any of the following steps when deciding the lowest amount to pay:

(i) We may ask you to arrange a payment plan with your landlord or utility company. This could include us making a partial payment, and you setting up a plan for you to repay the remaining amount you owe over a period of time.

(ii) We may have you use some of the money you have available in cash, checking, or savings to help pay for the expense. We will look at the money you have available as well as your bills when we decide how much we will pay.

(iii) We may consider income that is excluded or disregarded for cash assistance benefit calculations, such as SSI, as available to meet your emergency housing need.

(iv) We may consider money other individuals such as family or friends voluntarily give you. We will not count loans of money that you must repay to friends or family members.

(v) We may consider money from a nonneedy caretaker relative that lives in the home.

(vi) We may look at what other community resources you currently have to help you with your need.

(((8) Starting August 1, 2000, your family can get AREN for your emergency housing or utility needs for one thirty-day period every twelve months:

(a) The thirty-day period starts on the date we issue your first AREN payment and lasts thirty consecutive days.

(b) The twelve-month period starts the month we issued your first AREN payment. The next time you could be eligible for AREN is the first day of the twelfth month after we issued the first AREN payment. For example, if we issued you AREN on January 15th, you could be eligible again on the first of January the next year.

(c))) (f) The seven hundred fifty dollar limit ((of one thirty-day period)) every twelve months applies to the following people even if they leave the assistance unit:

(i) Adults; and

(ii) Minor parents that get AREN when no adults are in the assistance unit.

(((d) We do not look at AREN benefits you received before August 1, 2000 when we look to see if you received AREN in the last twelve months.

(9))) (8) We pay AREN:

(a) Directly to the landlord, mortgage company, utility, or other vendor whenever we can.

(b) If we cannot pay AREN directly to the landlord or other vendor, we will issue the AREN as a part of your TANF, SFA, or RCA cash grant. If we issue the AREN as a part of your grant, you must use it for your emergency need.

(((10))) (9) We may assign you a protective payee for your monthly grant under WAC ((388-265-1250)) 388-460-0020.

[Statutory Authority: RCW 74.08.090, 74.04.050. 00-22-064, 388-436-0002, filed 10/27/00, effective 12/1/00. Statutory Authority: RCW 74.04.050, 74.04.055, and 74.08.090. 99-14-046, 388-436-0002, filed 6/30/99, effective 8/1/99.]

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