by Emily Satifka
Many individuals experiencing homelessness were not eligible for Medicaid- or other health insurance alternatives- prior to Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.  Now that individuals experiencing homelessness are eligible for Medicaid, states and communities have a valuable resource to best serve the homeless community, and create supportive services ensuring better health and housing outcomes for this population.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) definition of an individual as being chronically homeless includes if he or she is unaccompanied, has a disabling condition, has been continuously homeless for a year or more, or has had at least four episodes of homelessness in the past three years.  The chronically homeless population in particular has complex medical needs, and needs coordinated care in order to find and remain in permanent housing. Occasionally, these individuals may require permanent supportive housing due to physical and mental disabilities. When looking at the puzzle pieces of housing and health, it is impossible not to see a comprehensive picture, needing each issue to be taken care of in order to maintain the other.
Examples of supportive housing services that could be covered by Medicaid include, but are not limited to: 
- Case management: Rather than the case manager providing services to an individual transitioning into housing, the case manager will help the new tenant re-integrate into living independently outside of a facility such as shelter.
- Mental health services and substance abuse services
- Physical health services
With supportive housing services’ case management, a case manager would be able to oversee the coordination of the patient’s care, ensuring that their health is managed, enabling the previously homeless individual to sustain housing permanently.
Previous examples of successful utilization of supportive housing services can be found here.
If you are interested in learning more about what can be done to provide supportive housing services in Pennsylvania, sign up for our email list here.