Medicaid Financing for Services in Supportive Housing for Chronically Homeless People: Current Practices and Opportunities. The Study's First Phase: Literature Synthesis, Environmental Scan, and Site Visits

02/24/2012

The chronically homeless people on whom this study focuses have multiple, complex, and interacting physical and behavioral health conditions. Achieving the best results for these clients and the public institutions and systems from which they get care requires effective engagement, service delivery, and care coordination. To understand how this care is currently being delivered, the research team reviewed both published and unpublished literature and drew on team members’ extensive knowledge of successful programs and agencies. The result was “Medicaid and Permanent Supportive Housing for Chronically Homeless Individuals: Literature Synthesis and Environmental Scan” (Burt, Wilkins, and Mauch, 2011). This report documents the evidence on the rationale for linking housing assistance with Medicaid-funded health services--specifically, that these services are more clinically effective while also being less expensive than avoidable emergency room use and hospitalizations.

The research team then conducted site visits to see how housing and supportive services worked together in practice. The team identified the relatively few communities in the United States with experienced providers that integrate housing with health, mental health, and substance abuse services. The team conducted site visits to three of these communities--the San Francisco Bay Area, Chicago, and the Boston-Worcester area. The communities visited are not representative; rather, they are examples. Their experiences may be helpful to policy makers and practitioners alike, as they illustrate both what can be accomplished and the many challenges and barriers that must be overcome along the way. A growing number of communities are starting to implement similar approaches.

The research team then produced four issue papers on promising practices linking health, mental health, and substance abuse services to housing assistance for the target population of chronically homeless people:

  • Paper 1--describes three subgroups of the people experiencing chronic homelessness, and the services and housing configurations currently supporting them. Health, Housing, and Service Supports for Three Groups of People Experiencing Chronic Homelessness. Cambridge, MA: AbtAssociates Inc., 2012. M.R. Burt & C. Wilkins. [ http://aspe.hhs.gov/daltcp/reports/2012/ChrHomls1.shtml]

  • Paper 2--describes the ways that Medicaid is being used now and might be used in the future under provisions of the ACA to serve chronically homeless people. Medicaid Financing for Services in Supportive Housing for Chronically Homeless People: Current Practices and Opportunities. Cambridge, MA: Abt Associates Inc., 2012. C. Wilkins, M.R. Burt, & D. Mauch.

  • Paper 3--describes innovative approaches to establishing Supplemental Security Income (SSI) eligibility. Establishing Eligibility for SSI for Chronically Homeless People. Cambridge, MA: AbtAssociates Inc., 2012. M.R. Burt & C. Wilkins. [ http://aspe.hhs.gov/daltcp/reports/2012/ChrHomls3.shtml]

  • Paper 4--looks at innovative ways that public housing agencies are supporting housing for formerly homeless people in the communities the researchers visited. Public Housing Agencies and Permanent Supportive Housing for Chronically Homeless People. C. Wilkins & M.R. Burt. [ http://aspe.hhs.gov/daltcp/reports/2012/ChrHomls4.shtml]

Core information about health, housing, and supportive services found in the Literature Synthesis and Environmental Scan is not duplicated in the papers. Likewise, Papers 2, 3, and 4 do not repeat the information on subpopulations found in Paper 1. Each paper refers to the others or to the Literature Synthesis and Environmental Scan as needed.

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