The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced the expansion of a partnership established earlier this year to improve access to affordable, accessible housing and the critical services that make community living possible. The partners also announced the launch of a national Housing and Services Resource Center (HSRC) as the hub of this coordinated federal effort. The announcement builds on President Biden’s Executive Order establishing a government-wide commitment to advancing equity, including for people with disabilities, as well as additional commitments announced in July on the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Within HHS, this partnership is led by the Administration for Community Living. It includes the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation.
Many people with disabilities, older adults and people experiencing homelessness need help obtaining housing that is both affordable and accessible. Many also need access to community-based supportive services—such as behavioral health services, personal care assistance, tenancy supports, accessible transportation and home-delivered meals—in order to live successfully and stably in the community. Without housing and services that meets their needs, they are often left with no choice but to live in facilities, like nursing homes and homeless shelters or on the streets.
In every state and community, there are a number of entities and programs helping people access housing and supportive services. Too often, however, the housing and service systems are siloed. On the other hand, stronger collaboration between these systems would enable states and communities to coordinate resources to help older adults, people with disabilities and people experiencing homelessness achieve housing stability, live with dignity and independence in the community, and avoiding homelessness and costly institutional care.
“COVID-19 has been particularly devastating for people who live in nursing homes and other congregate settings. Expanding community living options is critical to advancing health equity,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra in a statement. “That’s why the Biden-Harris Administration is investing more today in home and community-based services, behavioral health, and affordable and accessible housing. Our partnership with HHS and HUD comes at a pivotal moment, and we’re going to keep up the pace as we help communities build back better.”
“Many communities across the country are seeing growing numbers of people with disabilities and older adults experiencing homelessness. Thanks to the American Rescue Plan, HUD is able to provide communities with historic new housing resources needed to bring many more people experiencing homelessness off the streets and out of shelters and into permanent homes,” said HUD Secretary Marcia L. Fudge in a statement. “This new joint HHS and HUD center will help communities break down the silos and coordinate the provision of services with housing to ensure that these new resources reach our most vulnerable homeless neighbors.”
The Housing and Services Resource Center will implement a federally coordinated approach to providing resources, program guidance, training, and technical assistance to public housing authorities and housing providers; state Medicaid, disability, aging and behavioral health agencies; the aging and disability networks; homeless services organizations and networks; health care systems and providers; and tribal organizations.
The Housing and Services Resource Center also aims to facilitate state and local partnerships between housing and service systems and assist communities in leveraging new housing and service resources available through the American Rescue Plan and, when it passes, through the Build Back Better Act.
The Housing and Services Resource Center website brings together—for the first time—a wide variety of federal resources and guidance on both housing and services that support community living, including Medicaid-funded home and community-based services, behavioral health supports, vouchers and other housing programs. The HSRC website also provides information about the organizations in the respective networks and examples of successful partnerships and strategies for more effectively and efficiently connecting people to affordable, accessible housing and the services provided in the home or community to support independent living. Through the Housing and Services Resource Center, HHS and HUD will offer webinars, develop and disseminate new technical assistance resources, facilitate peer-to-peer learning and launch a learning collaborative.