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Housing support approved as new Medicaid benefit

Service will help thousands of seniors, people with disabilities avoid or exit homelessness

8/15/2019 10:00:00 AM

Minnesota seniors and people with disabilities soon will have more help finding and keeping housing, thanks to new services coming to the state’s Medicaid program next year.
On Aug. 1 Minnesota received federal approval of housing stabilization services as a basic Medicaid benefit. The new services will be available to seniors and people with disabilities — including mental illness and substance use disorder — who are homeless, living in institutions, or at risk of becoming homeless or institutionalized. The benefit will start in July 2020. When fully implemented, an estimated 7,600 people will receive these services. 
“This important addition to the Medicaid program will give Minnesotans more ways to find and keep housing,” said Acting Human Services Commissioner Pam Wheelock. “This is a big step toward ending homelessness, while also making sure people live with self-determination and dignity.”
In 2017, the Minnesota Department of Human Services asked the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to add Housing Stabilization Services to the state Medicaid plan. 
Most current housing services provide short-term assistance only during a crisis or transition. The new services will increase long-term stability by supporting people to plan for, find and move into their own homes, while also helping people stay in their own homes in the community. 
Minnesota Housing Commissioner Jennifer Leimaile Ho welcomed news of the housing benefit and the positive impact it will have.
“Far too many people are experiencing homelessness and there is a lack of housing that’s affordable," she said. "This new benefit will help build a stronger link between where people want to live and the services they need to have stability in their lives."
Advocates will help people with disabilities and seniors find and keep housing, addressing potential challenges such as budgeting, interacting with landlords and neighbors, and understanding leases.
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