Today, The Pew Charitable Trusts’ Stateline blog quoted MHSA President & Executive Director Joe Finn in “States Freed to Use Medicaid Money for Housing,” an article by Michael Ollove exploring how states like Massachusetts are utilizing Medicaid to support formerly homeless individuals in moving into – and maintaining – permanent housing:
Communities with big homeless populations are increasingly turning to a strategy known as housing first. The idea: helping chronically homeless people to find a permanent home—and stay in it—is the best way to help them lead stable, healthy lives.
The approach has been used in cities like Chicago and Cleveland, as well as in several states, such as Massachusetts, Minnesota and Washington, as local nonprofits have worked to provide both housing and health care to homeless people.
And it got an important endorsement in June, when the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) told state Medicaid offices around the country that Medicaid dollars, usually reserved for clinical services and medications, could be used to help chronically homeless people and others with long-term disabilities to find and maintain permanent housing…
…Earlier approaches to homelessness focused on helping the homeless take transitional steps toward permanent housing as they acquired the skills needed to live independently. That philosophy has gradually given way to the idea that it is more effective to move the homeless to permanent housing as soon as possible, while still giving them the support services they need to survive on their own.
“Frankly, we used to underestimate the stabilizing impact that housing has,” said Joe Finn, president of the nonprofit Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance. “If we can keep people housed, some of these other things tend to work out better.”