WSR 00-19-043

PROPOSED RULES

DEPARTMENT OF

SOCIAL AND HEALTH SERVICES
(Economic Services Administration)

[ Filed September 13, 2000, 3:45 p.m. ]

Original Notice.

Exempt from preproposal statement of inquiry under RCW 34.05.310(4).

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: Change eligibility requirements for clients to receive additional requirements for emergent needs (AREN). Limit AREN to pay for emergency housing and utility costs only. Set a payment limit of $1500.00 for AREN and limit of AREN to one thirty-day period every twelve months.

Statutory Authority for Adoption: RCW 74.08.090, 74.04.050.

Statute Being Implemented: RCW 74.08.090.

Summary: Sets eligibility requirements for AREN as a client eligible for temporary assistance for needy families, state family assistance, or refugee cash assistance. Explains process of deciding if a client has a good reason for needing assistance and how a case manager will determine how much the department will pay. Sets a limit of $1500.00 for AREN payments and the limit of one AREN benefit every twelve months.

Reasons Supporting Proposal: Changes to restrict eligibility for payments under AREN are needed because the funds used under this program were far greater than expected demand and allotted budget for the biennium. Without this change in rules, the funds for the program will run out in December of 2000. The department will not receive additional funds for this program until the next biennium starting July 1, 2001.

Name of Agency Personnel Responsible for Drafting, Implementation and Enforcement: John Camp, Division of Assistance Programs, P.O. Box 45480, Olympia, WA 98504-5480, (360) 413-3232.

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: WAC 388-436-0002 contains the eligibility requirements and restrictions for use of additional requirements for emergent needs. Adopting the proposed regulations is expected to allow the program to remain in place for the biennium ending June 30, 2001.

Proposal Changes the Following Existing Rules:

Sets eligibility requirements for AREN as a client eligible for temporary assistance for needy families, state family assistance, or refugee cash assistance.
Explains process of deciding if a client has a good reason for needing assistance and how a case manager will determine how much the department will pay.
Sets a limit of $1500.00 for AREN payments and the limit of one AREN benefit every twelve months.

No small business economic impact statement has been prepared under chapter 19.85 RCW. The changes as a result of this rule do not affect small businesses.

RCW 34.05.328 applies to this rule adoption. This rule meets the definition of significant legislative change. However, RCW 34.05.328 (5)(b)(vii) exempts DSHS rules that relate only to client medical or financial eligibility.

Hearing Location: Lacey Government Center (behind Tokyo Bento Restaurant), 1009 College Street S.E., Room 104-B, Lacey, WA 98503, on October 24, 2000, at 10:00 a.m.

Assistance for Persons with Disabilities: Contact Kelly Cooper by October 17, 2000, phone (360) 902-7540, TTY (360) 902-8324, e-mail CoopeKD@dshs.wa.gov.

Submit Written Comments to: Identify WAC Numbers, Kelly Cooper, Rules Coordinator, Rules and Policies Assistance Unit, P.O. Box 45850, Olympia, WA 98504-5850, fax (360) 902-8292, by October 24, 2000.

Date of Intended Adoption: No earlier than October 25, 2000.

September 11, 2000

Marie Myerchin-Redifer

Manager

2807.5
AMENDATORY SECTION(Amending WSR 99-14-046, filed 6/30/99, effective 8/1/99)

WAC 388-436-0002
If my family has an emergency, can I get help from DSHS ((provides a cash benefit called additional requirements for emergent needs (AREN) to help families pay for short-term expenses caused by an emergency.)) 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 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) ((Who can receive additional requirements for emergent needs (AREN) benefits?

A family may request AREN benefits if they have applied for or already get cash assistance from the temporary assistance for needy families (TANF), state family assistance (SFA) or refugee cash assistance (RCA) program. The family must meet the eligibility conditions for TANF, SFA or RCA to receive AREN benefits.

(2) Will AREN change the amount of our assistance?

When the department approves AREN benefits, the amount used to figure how much assistance the family can receive is increased for one month. This is called an 'increased payment standard.' The department uses the increased standard to:

(a) Determine initial eligibility and calculate the payment amount for families who are new applicants; or

(b) Calculate the monthly payment amount for families already receiving assistance.

(3) What kinds of things are considered AREN emergencies?

(a) The family experienced a disaster such as a theft, house fire, flood, severe weather, accident or medical emergency.

(b) The family has extra short-term expenses caused by homelessness, domestic violence, or situations that jeopardize the family's health and safety.

(c) The family's funds were used to pay for necessary expenses such as:

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

(ii) Medical care;

(iii) Dental care need to obtain employment or because of pain;

(iv) Emergency child care;

(v) Other reasonable and necessary expenses.

(d) The family's cash grant has been reduced or terminated in anticipation of income that will not be available to pay for the need when the payment is due.

(4) Do I need to provide proof that I have an emergency?

Families must show proof that there is a good reason they do not have sufficient funds to meet their short-term need. The proof must show:

(a) Why funds are insufficient to pay for the need; and

(b) The amount of money necessary to meet the need; and

(c) How the family will pay for the need in the future; and

(d) The expense is for a need listed in subsection (5) of this rule.

(5) What kind of expenses does the AREN benefit cover?

The department may approve AREN benefits to pay for the following kinds of expenses:

(a) Rent, security deposits, mortgage payments, taxes or fees:

(i) To prevent an eviction or foreclosure from causing the loss of housing that the family will be able to afford in the future.

(ii) To obtain housing subsidies or permanent housing the family will be able to afford in the future when:

(A) Eviction or foreclosure is not preventable.

(B) The family has no housing or has only temporary housing.

(C) The current housing puts the family's health or safety in danger due to a condition the property owner is unable or unwilling to fix.

(D) Moving is necessary to escape a domestic violence situation.

(b) Repairs, deposits, fees and services to assure the household has electricity, water, sewer or fuel for heating and cooking.

(c) Bedding, clothing, cooking utensils, and personal hygiene items when the family has lost these items due to a disaster, domestic violence, or homelessness.

(d) Food when the family has no other way to get food.

(e) Other goods and services necessary to protect the health and safety of the family.

(6) Are there any limits on the amount of AREN benefits I can get?

(a) When AREN benefits are approved, the department pays the least amount necessary to get the family through the emergency. Funds from other sources affect the amount of AREN the department pays. A representative from the department will work with your family to figure out the amount.

(b) There is no limit on how frequently a family may request or receive AREN benefits. The department makes the eligibility decision based on whether or not there is a reasonable cause for the emergent need and the lack of funds available to the family.

(7) How does the department pay the AREN benefit?

(a) The department pays the approved AREN benefit as part of the family's TANF, SFA or RCA cash grant using the income rules found in chapter 388-450 WAC.

(b) When possible, the department pays AREN benefits directly to a third party under the provisions in WAC 388-460-0001)) 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.

(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.

(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.

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

(d) 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) The 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) 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) We may assign you a protective payee for your monthly grant under WAC 388-265-1250.

[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.]

Washington State Code Reviser's Office