Massachusetts Among Eight States and DC Chosen for ‘Housing and Services Partnership Accelerator’

Feb 14, 2024

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) are announcing that eight states, including Massachusetts, and the District of Columbia (DC) have been selected to participate in a new federal initiative, known as the “Housing and Services Partnership Accelerator” (Accelerator), to help strengthen partnerships across housing, disability, aging, and health sectors; access available federal programs and resources, and maximize federal flexibilities to help keep people healthy.

The Accelerator will help eight states and DC unlock critical resources to reduce homelessness by addressing health-related social needs, such as housing-related services. The program provides technical assistance to states implementing HHS’ recently issued guidance regarding clinically appropriate and evidence-based services that can be covered under Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

For example, states can support health care access through Medicaid section 1115 demonstrations that provide services like housing transition services and case management that helps people avoid lease violation. In addition, states can provide services that connect people to HUD housing programs by covering short-term housing costs, like security deposits and rental application fees, for specific transitions.

The project description for Massachusetts is below:

Through the Accelerator, [Massachusetts] will examine ways that Medicaid resources and other supportive services funding can be aligned in preparation for the implementation of a new supportive housing pool fund. In alignment with the state plan on aging and its Olmstead Plan to support community living for people with disabilities, the Commonwealth plans to create a comprehensive map of housing related services available to homeless people. The state also plans to study the range of service costs required to build and operate permanent supportive housing programming required to keep people housed. The Massachusetts Medicaid waiver framework provides for housing-related services for people with complex health needs, including but not limited to pre-tenancy navigation and housing search assistance, one-time transition and moving costs, tenancy and sustaining services and individualized case management, and housing transition and navigation services

The Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities (HLC), the state housing agency, is Massachusetts’ lead agency in the Accelerator, with the support of the state Medicaid agency. Team members include state agencies for aging, rehabilitation, housing and stabilization, elder affairs, community services, substance addiction services and several community health and housing organizations.

Over the next twelve months, HUD and HHS will provide these eight states and DC with intensive federal technical assistance and opportunities for state peer-to-peer exchange to support their implementation of clinically-indicated housing-related services and supports under their Medicaid programs for people with complex health needs experiencing or at-risk of homelessness, including people with disabilities, older adults, people with mental health disorders, people with substance use disorders, and people with other chronic medical conditions.

By receiving this federal technical assistance, these states can improve coordination and delivery of services like navigation services, ongoing individualized case management, one-time transition assistance, and home modifications that can help people experiencing or at-risk of homelessness to obtain and maintain stable housing. Synopses of each state’s areas of focus and goals under the Accelerator can be found here.

The Housing and Services Partnership Accelerator helps fulfill a federal commitment to “scale housing and supports that meet demand” made in All In: The Biden Administration’s Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness, which was developed by the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) with input from stakeholders across the U.S., including people with lived experience of homelessness. Secretary Becerra serves as Chair of USICH and has made expanding supportive services to prevent and address homelessness a priority.

Last week, HUD announced $3.16 billion in funding to fund 7,000 housing and services projects for people experiencing homelessness – the largest expansion of annual federal funding provided through HUD’s Continuum of Care program in history. In November 2023, HHS, through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), published guidance – PDF and a framework – PDF clarifying the flexibilities available to states under their Medicaid section 1115 demonstrations or 1915(i) state plan amendments to cover services to help meet eligible enrollees’ health related social needs like housing and nutrition, and to receive federal matching funds for their Medicaid expenditures on those services when clinically indicated. The Accelerator will provide tailored support to the selected eight states and DC who are early adopters of these flexibilities.