cropped-561292_320989434631404_2127003943_n3-e1390196775372.jpgIssue Paper: Economic Justice – Housing and Essential Needs Support Program (HEN)*

Human dignity is respected and the common good is fostered only if human rights are protected and basic responsibilities are met. Every human being has a right to life, the fundamental right that makes all other rights possible, and a right to access to those things required for human decency—food and shelter, education and employment, health care and housing, freedom of religion and family life.

 Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, USCCB, 2011


In the past Washington State has funded services and provided cash and medical benefits for persons who are physically and/or mentally incapacitated and unemployable for at least 90 days. As the State struggled with revenue shortfalls, the state’s services and supports were eliminated, reduced or modified.

Currently, there are limited safety net programs for mentally or physically disabled persons. The Housing and Essential Needs Support Program (HEN) is one of them and ensures that people with temporary mental or physical disabilities facing economic hardship can meet some of their basic needs. In fiscal year 2014, an average of 4,212 people per month received assistance through HEN; 64% had a mental illness. Rent and utility assistance are paid directly to landlords and utility companies. Recipients are also able to access transportation assistance and obtain health/hygiene items.

In 2014 and 2015, funding was maintained for the HEN program, but despite their vulnerability, persons are not eligible for HEN if they are in the state Medicaid Apple Health Program for drug or alcohol addiction.

2016 Legislative Session Talking Point:

  • Extend HEN coverage to state Medicaid Apple Health Program recipients with drug and alcohol addictions who are in recovery