Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Scene From America: Modest Inheritance = Homelessness

The Captain thinks 60 G's would buy a pretty nice cardboard box, no?

A disabled mother living on federal assistance could very well end up homeless after inheriting money from her father, who died last year.

The sum, $60,000, is not enough to sustain the 55-year-old north Spokane woman, but it is enough to cause her to lose the federal housing subsidy that allows her to live in a duplex apartment with her two teenage children.


In order to maintain her SSI benefits, as well as her eligibility for Medicaid, the state and federal health insurance for the poor, Harding’s Spokane attorney Cheryl Mitchell established for her a special-needs trust, which was approved in November by Superior Court Judge Michael Price.


After paying her legal fees, trustee fees and other distributions on Harding’s behalf, about $30,000 remains in her trust.

However, the Housing Authority does not recognize the protections and counts every dollar distributed from it as income. Persons receiving Section 8 vouchers must spend 30 percent of their income on housing. The federal subsidy covers the rest.

In March, the housing authority advised Harding that her share of her $800 rent would increase from $122 to $438 a month and that if the trust distributions continued, she would lose her rental assistance entirely.


If Harding is terminated from the program, Mitchell said, it is possible she will never again receive housing assistance. She will not be able to afford fair market rent, and she will most likely become homeless.

[The Spokesman-Review]

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