What is HEN? | Program Enrollment Update | Contact Information | Who is Eligible? | How Do I Enroll in the Program? | What does HEN Provide? | What documents do I need? | Information for Landlords | Essential Needs Bags | FAQS

 

WHAT IS HEN?

The Housing and Essential Needs (HEN) program provides access to essential needs items, transportation assistance, and potential rental and utility assistance for low-income individuals who are unable to work for at least 90 days due to a physical and/or mental incapacity and have zero income. Eligibility for the HEN program is determined by the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) and the program is administered by Catholic Community Services in King County.

PROGRAM ENROLLMENT UPDATE

As of December 6, 2022, the King County HEN Program will be enrolling eligible people to receive HEN transportation and essential needs servicesAt this time, we are NOT able to offer rent and utility assistance to new clients.   As funding and capacity allow, we will prioritize people for rent and utility assistance who are already enrolled in HEN transportation and essential needs services and meet program criteria. Please call our Resource Line (206-328-5755) for more information.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Individuals with general questions about the program should call the HEN Resource Line or can stop by the Phoenix Center during open hours. Currently enrolled clients can also contact their case manager.

 

 

WHO IS ELIGIBLE?

Eligibility for the HEN program is determined by the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) and the program is administered by Catholic Community Services in King County. HEN is not an entitlement program, and program services are subject to funding availability and may be discontinued or reduced at any time.

Eligible recipients located outside of King County should contact the HEN provider in their county for information about the services available. Click here for a HEN directory by county.

To qualify applicants must have:

  • A disability (physical and/or mental and/or substance use disorder) AND
  • Have zero income or be receiving ABD (Aged, Blind and Disabled) cash benefit program*
  • For more qualifications click here.

HOW DO I ENROLL IN THE PROGRAM?

All individuals who wish to enroll in HEN must receive a letter from DSHS letting them know that they are eligible for the program. Once they receive the letter, they can call the HEN Resource Line at 206-328-5755 or stop by the Phoenix Center during open hours to verify their eligibility.

If confirmed eligible, they may enroll in person at the Phoenix Center (address and hours above) and immediately receive HEN transportation and essential needs services. As program funding and capacity allows, CCS will prioritize people for rental assistance funding who are currently enrolled in the HEN transportation and essential needs services and meet program criteria. A HEN case manager will reach out to contact any individuals who may meet program criteria for rent and/or utility assistance if it becomes available.

WHAT DOES HEN PROVIDE?

Transportation and Essential Needs
All individuals who are eligible for HEN in King County can enroll to immediately receive the following:

  • Annual ORCA Lift Pass for access to free area public transportation for one year
  • A monthly bag of hygiene and cleaning supplies

Rent and Utility Assistance

Individuals who are first enrolled in HEN transportation and essential needs services may also be offered the following, pending future program availability, and if they meet program criteria.

  • Rent and Utility Assistance. Evaluation of the amount of combined monthly rent and utility assistance that can be provided will happen at the intake appointment.
  • One-time move-in assistance, including application fees and first month’s rent. This may be available depending on the type of unit and the relationship with the landlord. Documentation of formal rental relationship is required.
  • One-time back pay assistance for those behind in rent and or utility payments.

Not Covered

  • HEN cannot provide ongoing rent/utility payments for those households living in subsidized housing as defined as public housing (SHA, KCHA or RHA buildings) or those receiving a section 8 voucher. Current HEN clients may be eligible for limited past due utility bill assistance. Contact the HEN program to find out more.
  • HEN cannot provide utility assistance or mortgage payments for homeowners.

WHAT DOCUMENTS DO I NEED?

Catholic Community Services can only serve individuals who have been confirmed eligible by DSHS and can only distribute checks directly to landlords and/or utility companies. Certain documentation, as noted below, is required prior to enrollment and/or rent/utility payments.

For Transportation and Essential Needs Only

  • DSHS eligibility letter

For Rental Assistance

  • DSHS eligibility letter
  • Government issued Photo ID
  • A lease, rental agreement, Pay or Vacate Notice, Eviction Notice, or a completed Certification of Payment Obligation from a family/friend a person is staying with.
  • The person to whom you pay rent must also submit a W-9 form. Click here to download a W-9 form and have the person to whom you pay rent fill it out and sign it.
  • Landlord Habitability Standards Certification (only required if homeless or moving into new housing while on the HEN program).
  • Pay or Vacate letter from landlord indicating you must vacate housing if payment is not received in 14 days (Only required if housed upon entry to the HEN program).

For Utility Assistance

We provide utility assistance for electricity, natural gas, propane (or other alternative heating sources), water, sewer or garbage. We cannot assist with telephone, cable or internet bills and only limited assistance is available for those who do not also have a rental obligation.

To receive utility assistance, you must provide:

  • A utility bill, a utility shut off notice or late payment notice. If you are asking only for utility assistance and not rental assistance, the utility bill must be in your name.

INFORMATION FOR LANDLORDS

The HEN program works with over 3,000 landlords to provide housing to clients. Landlords are private businesses, non-profit housing providers, and or friends/family members. Receiving payment through HEN is easy. HEN just needs a copy of the landlord’s W9 form, a complete rental agreement* or an Intent to Rent** letter and a Landlord Habitability Standards Certification form.

A lease or rental agreement* must contain the following elements to be approved:

  • Name of tenant
  • Name of Landlord (must own property or in the case of Property Manager, must provide a property management agreement from the landlord)
  • Address of rental property
  • Term of agreement (lease start and end date)
  • Rent rate and date due
  • Signature of tenant/date
  • Deposits (if any and what for/term)
  • Signature of landlord/date

An “Intent to Rent”* letter must contain the following elements:

  • Name of tenant
  • Name of landlord
  • Address of rental property
  • Term of agreement (lease start and end date)
  • Rent rate and date due
  • Deposits (if any and what for/term)
  • Amount of pro-rated (if needed) first month’s rent
  • Signature of landlord/date
  • Statement that payments will be refunded if tenant does not move in.

* HEN has the discretion to approve or deny payment to any rental agreement or lease.

Unlike a Section 8 voucher, HEN rental assistance is temporary. Monthly HEN rental assistance is provided to participants as long as they are enrolled in the HEN program. HEN can only guarantee monthly payments 90 days at a time. At some point, it is expected that HEN recipients will need to begin covering rental assistance with their own resources.

** Accepted in the case of new rentals where the Landlord is requiring that deposits and -first month’s rent to be processed before move in. Lease must be submitted within 30 days after letter.

Inspections

Landlords should know that the HEN program conducts random inspections of rooms or apartments of program participants. Living spaces must meet basic standards in order for participants to be able to receive funding for their room or apartment.

ESSENTIAL NEEDS BAGS

Essential Needs bags contain a variety of hygiene and cleaning supplies and can be picked up once a month for anyone enrolled in HEN. There are currently three locations for people to pick up their monthly bags during walk-in times with no appointment necessary. If people have questions about where to pick up their bag, or need to make other arrangements, please contact your case manager or call the HEN resource line at 206-328-5755.

 

 

FAQS

  • If I get a letter from DSHS saying I’m eligible for HEN, does that mean I’m enrolled?
    No, you must first come in for an initial appointment with a Case Manager at the Phoenix Center to get screened to confirm you meet the HEN qualifications. If you are confirmed eligible, you will undergo a brief intake process to be enrolled in the Transportation and Essential Needs Services. You will be able to receive an annual ORCA Lift pass (If you do not already have one) and be able to take home an Essential Needs bag that day. If an opening becomes available in the rental assistance program, and you meet program criteria, a HEN case manager will contact you to begin the process of enrolling in the housing part of the HEN program.
  • Can I get a check the day of my appointment to enroll in the Housing part of HEN?
    No, checks will not be issued on site. All checks will be mailed to landlords or utility companies.
  • I was just cut off benefits, can I still get money?
    You must currently be enrolled in the HEN Housing Program to be eligible for this funding.
  • Can I get housing assistance more than once?
    Yes, as long as you remain eligible and enrolled in HEN you can receive rental and utility assistance.
  • I am homeless and don’t have housing can I get assistance?
    If you are eligible for HEN, you can enroll in our transportation and essential needs services and receive an ORCA card and monthly essential needs (hygiene and cleaning product bag) regardless of housing status. Your case manager can then discuss options for housing search assistance.
  • Will my friend or family member have to pay taxes on the rent paid to them?
    Possibly; your friend or family member may call the IRS at (800) 829-1040 to ask about how these payments may affect their taxes. If they receive government assistance, it may also affect those benefits.
  • Can I walk into a CCS office without an appointment to get a new ORCA card or Essential Needs Bag from a HEN Case Manager?
    Maybe! The Phoenix Center is open Tues-Wed-Thurs from 10:00am – 2:00pm for walk-in clients with DSHS eligibility letters. If you are already enrolled in HEN Transportation and Essential Needs, you can receive those services. If you are not a current client, you will first be screened to ensure you are still eligible for HEN services. If so, a case manager will enroll you in the program and you will be able to get an annual ORCA Lift pass and take home an Essential Needs bag. If you want to check eligibility before going down to the Phoenix Center, you can also call the intake line (206) 328-5755 to verify you are eligible.
  • If I am receiving rental income, will a 1099 be sent out at the beginning of the new year to file with my taxes?
    No, the IRS no longer requires HEN to send 1099 forms to those receiving rental income. Please go to the IRS homepage and select the Schedule E form to report this income. If you do not know how much your income was over the previous year, call our Intake line for assistance.