SSI Advocate - Housing Navigator

Oakland, CA
Full Time
Social Security

BayLegal’s Alameda County Social Security Disability/SSI Advocacy Team is a collaborative team that helps Alameda County residents with physical, mental, and or cognitive disabilities apply for SSI and Social Security disability benefits, as well as other economic benefits to which they may be entitled, and represents them with appeals and hearings, to secure a stable income and exit homelessness. We actively outreach and meet our clients in the community, either in-person or remotely, including at psychiatric facilities, county jail and collaborate with other community-based organizations and health care providers.

Position: BayLegal seeks a passionate, self-reflective, and empathic person who brings social justice values to our work representing unhoused Alameda County residents with disabilities in their claims for Social Security and SSI benefits. Social workers and attorneys at BayLegal work collaboratively in case assessment, strategy, and management, forming an interdisciplinary team to support clients and move their legal case forward, and to access housing. Social Security cases can last months or years, providing opportunity for case planning and goal setting, assisting clients to navigate and obtain appropriate health care to prove their case, and connect to housing resources.

In addition to dealing with the trauma of housing instability and homelessness, our clients are often coping with multiple crises related to physical  and  mental  health  disabilities,  substance   abuse, domestic violence, and poverty. We seek someone who is skilled at helping our clients navigate these different issues to engage with their legal case and increase their economic and housing stability.

Our Social Security Advocacy team meets clients in the community, either in-person or remotely, including at psychiatric facilities, county jail and collaborate with other community-based organizations and health care providers. This position is based in our Oakland office and requires travel throughout the city/county as necessary to best serve our clients. As a member of BayLegal's regional practice, there may be travel within BayLegal's broader service areas as necessary to best serve clients.

As a Housing Navigator you will have the opportunity to:

  • Assist disability advocacy clients experiencing homelessness secure and maintain stable permanent housing and support client choice around appropriate housing.
  • Conduct street outreach, including at homeless encampments, for high-risk individuals who are referred for disability advocacy and housing navigation.
  • Provide housing navigation services for disability advocacy clients experiencing homelessness, including support in gathering and submitting the necessary documents for subsidized housing, outreach, and service provision in the field as well as IHSS application and worker selection processes if needed, and help them maintain contact with their disability attorney.
  • Provide care coordination with physical and mental health care provider to help gather the necessary documentation for their disability claim.
  • Support clients in identifying their needs, setting goals, and developing a structured plan for achieving those goals through appropriate evidence-based clinical practices.
  • Ensure that appropriate resources and supports are in place for individuals to maintain their housing, increase client stability and follow-through with their disability application process.
  • Provide crisis intervention and crisis counseling, as well as to develop emergency safety plans, and long-term plans as a team with the client and attorney.
  • Develop relationships and engage in collaboration with a range of public and private community partners, including governmental agencies, courts, and community-based organizations, to ensure integrative services and address systemic barriers facing BayLegal's client community.
  • Engage in other tasks and projects that further BayLegal's operations as a non-profit.

Required Qualifications

  • Humility in working with colleagues and clients across the spectrum of diversity, including race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, immigrant status, religious identity, physical and mental disabilities, and/or limited English proficiency.
  • Must have received or be willing to receive and maintain up to date COVID-19 vaccination (including eligible boosters) by date of hire to be considered. Proof of vaccination required.
  • An interest in being part of an interdisciplinary team with attorneys to support clients.
  • An interest in issues pertaining to homelessness, economic justice, disability, and social determinants of health.
  • Excellent verbal, writing, client interviewing, and organizational skills.
  • Experience and skills maintaining organization of time, managing diverse activities, and meeting critical deadlines with minimal supervision.
  • Excellent writing, editing, and proofreading skills, with ability to be detail-oriented
  • Experience and commitment to working collaboratively with a dynamic team
  • Curious and self-directed with an ability to anticipate what needs to be done
  • Ability to simultaneously manage multiple projects while maintaining a firm grasp of individual project details
  • Sense of humor and proactive problem-solver.

Preferred Qualifications

  • Advanced degree in social work, social welfare, marriage, family and child counseling, counseling psychology, social psychology, or equivalent.
  • Licensure (e.g., LCSW, LMFT) or progress towards licensure (e.g., ASW, MFT Intern or Trainee).
  • In-depth knowledge of, and experience with, social services agencies, housing support services, and behavioral health providers in Alameda County.
  • Experience working in a variety of settings in the field with individuals with physical and mental health disabilities, survivors of domestic violence, and those impacted by complex trauma.
  • Candidates who are bilingual in Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin, Tagalog, or Vietnamese.

COVID-19 work: BayLegal is committed to the health and safety of our staff, clients, and community. BayLegal has implemented detailed health and safety protocols to minimize risk of exposure and has an evolving plan for expanding local office reception hours to the public and increased in-person activities in our offices and community-based advocacy sites.  Employees are expected to reside in California and at a distance allowing them to commute to their physical BayLegal base location and service delivery locations as needed and in compliance with public health advisories.  During the initial phase employees are expected to be in the offices a minimum of two days per week.  Due to the COVID-19 crisis and its impact on personal lives, BayLegal is open to providing flexibility regarding work schedules to the extent feasible for the position.

Compensation and Benefits: We offer a diverse, family friendly environment, and compensation based on competitive public interest salaries along with a generous benefits package.  BayLegal's benefits package includes 100% employer covered medical, dental, and life insurance for employees and 60% for dependents; BayLegal student debt reimbursement program; long term disability insurance; employee assistance program; wage differentials for multi-lingual employees whose non-English language skills are regularly used in the provision of work tasks and pass a request test of fluency and/or proficiency; dependent childcare employer contribution program; employer paid CA Bar license and/or social work license fees; and 401k retirement plan with BayLegal contribution following first year.  BayLegal has a generous paid leave policy which includes sick leave; parental leave; 15 holidays each year; 3 floating holidays each year (days chosen by employee); and vacation (starting at 13 days and increasing with additional years of employment).  This is a union position (Bay Area Legal Aid Workers, “BALAW”). Depending upon educational degree, this position will be classified as an Advocate or Social Worker under the BayLegal-BALAW 2022-26 Collective Bargaining Agreement and placed on salary scale based upon years of experience.  To be classified as a social worker requires having a master’s degree in field of social work (Master of Social Work or Social Welfare) or equivalent (e.g., Masters of Marriage and Family Therapy, Master of Clinical Psychology). The CBA salary scale can be found on our BayLegal union positions salary scale for 2022-2026.

Applications: BayLegal thrives on our diversity, and we are proud to be an equal opportunity employer.  We are committed to building a culturally diverse workplace and strongly encourage women, LGBTQIA+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer, Intersex, Asexual) and QTBIPOC (Queer, Trans, Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) individuals, veterans, individuals who have been impacted by the criminal justice system, persons with disabilities, and persons from other underrepresented groups to apply.  We are committed to equal employment opportunity and providing reasonable accommodations to qualified candidates and employees pursuant to applicable law.  We value and encourage diversity and solicit applications from all qualified applicants without regard to race, color, gender, sex, age, religion, creed, national origin, ancestry, citizenship, marital status, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, medical condition, military and veteran status, gender identity or expression, genetic information, or any other characteristic protected by federal, state, or local law. If you require a reasonable accommodation as part of the application process, please contact BayLegal’s Human Resources Manager at (510) 250-5225. 

BayLegal will begin reviewing applications upon receipt and continue until the position is filled. Please submit (1) cover letter including response to question below (no page limit), (2) resume, (3) references, and (4) writing sample through BayLegal’s career application portal.

As part of your cover letter, please address the following:

BayLegal’s clients are low-income and very low-income members of our communities. They include LGBTQIA+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer, Intersex, Asexual) and QTBIPOC (Queer, Trans, Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) individuals, the working poor, seniors, people who are limited English proficient, veterans, persons with disabilities, survivors of abuse and exploitation, individuals impacted by the criminal justice system, and people who are experiencing or at risk of homeless, and persons from other underrepresented groups. To ensure our organization is best serving these populations, BayLegal strives to promote an evolving set of behaviors and attitudes amongst our staff, as well as policies that enable us to work effectively across cultures, with clients, with our coworkers, and with the community. We see this as a commitment to enhance the provision of our services to all clients; to raise the level of positive client outcomes; and to create an inclusive and respectful workplace in which differences are acknowledged and valued.

How do you think your experiences, professional or otherwise, prepared you to serve our diverse client base effectively, work effectively with colleagues from different backgrounds than your own, and to contribute to our commitment to humility, inclusion, and diversity? Feel free to think broadly about your response to this question, applying various aspects of your life and personal experience




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