HUD’s Office of Special Needs Assistance Programs (SNAPS) and the Office of HIV/AIDS Housing (OHH), in collaboration with the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), are pleased to announce the availability of remote and onsite technical assistance (TA) focused on improving program participant access and effective utilization of mainstream healthcare services at the systems level. These efforts are designed to ensure effective coordination linkages between housing and healthcare services to maximize care coverage and increase access to comprehensive health care and supportive services that can be coordinated with housing. This TA is available to grantees, sub-recipients and project sponsors of the following programs: Continuum of Care (CoC), Emergency Solutions Grantees (ESG), and Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA).
SNAPS and OHH programs serve the nation’s most vulnerable people experiencing or at-risk of homelessness. For many individuals and families, success in housing depends on the availability of supportive and health care services to help retain housing and use housing as a platform for health, well-being, and recovery. Special needs populations disproportionately have multiple chronic health conditions including mental health and substance use disorders and medical conditions when compared to the total population, and those living with HIV face a multitude of other life challenges. The opportunities that exist at this intersection between homeless and HIV/AIDS assistance provider networks and healthcare systems are extremely important not only to accomplish our mission of ending and preventing homelessness but also to the missions of our Federal partners at HHS whose programs target the same populations we serve.
The state option to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) creates unprecedented opportunities to increase coverage and link health care, supportive services, and housing. In states that choose to expand their Medicaid programs, nearly all people experiencing homelessness will have access to health care by virtue of their income status, regardless of disability or family composition. There are also opportunities in states that are choosing not to expand Medicaid coverage. The care delivery innovations made possible through the ACA create opportunities to extend both the range and type of services while increasing the emphasis on addressing “whole person” health needs.
HUD is coordinating with a range of Federal partners at HHS whose grant and policy priorities converge with those of SNAPS and HOPWA to develop and implement this TA initiative. We hope you will take advantage of these opportunities to learn about successful approaches for improving access to health insurance enrollment and healthcare services and develop actionable strategies that your CoC and HOPWA network can undertake to best serve the individuals and families entrusted in your care. Below is a summary of the types of TA you can expect from HUD in the coming months:
HUD will produce a series of webinars that will be open to all grantees and sub-recipients. Dates and instructions for participating will be announced via listserve message with the first webinar slated to occur in December 2014. Webinars will include presentations from subject matter experts, fellow grantees and federal partners on topics such as:
- What Can We Do to Improve Access to Healthcare for Our Program Participants?
- CoC and HOPWA Peer-to-Peer Grantee Healthcare Forums.
- Medicaid Enrollment for people experiencing homelessness and people living with HIV/AIDS.
Homeless and Healthcare Systems Integration Action Planning Sessions (direct onsite TA)
Communities are invited to request on-site TA to convene representatives from the CoC [and ESG] homeless assistance provider and HIV provider [including HOPWA] networks along with local/state representatives from the healthcare service system to complete an action plan to improve access to and effective utilization of healthcare services for SNAPS and OHH supported program participants. Expert facilitators and subject matter experts will coordinate and staff these sessions providing pre- and post- onsite support. The onsite sessions, with the lead CoC as the primary local convener, will be highly coordinated with grantee and stakeholder networks from HHS agencies such as HRSA, SAMHSA, and CMS as well HUD and HHS regional and field offices. 1-2 sessions will occur between December, 2014 and January, 2015 with the remaining 18 to occur between March and September, 2015. An assessment report will be prepared at the conclusion of all the onsite TA sessions to identify lessons learned and promising practices. The report will be made publicly available for all to learn about and benefit from this initiative.
In recognition of the high demand for this TA, we encourage you to submit your TA request as soon as possible. The first selection round will be held in early December. Please submit to email@example.com with the following information:
- Name and contact information for the point of contact on the TA request
- Your CoC number
- Affirmation of support from your CoC Coordinator for this TA, and your role in the CoC
- Key concern you would like this TA to resolve
- Brief description of who you would like to see at a planning session, and what outcome you would like to achieve
Listserv Messages and ACA Website Enhancements
HUD will send information about specific topics that can support your efforts to improve your program participants’ access to and effective utilization of healthcare services in the context of ACA through ongoing list serve messages. Additionally, HUD will be making improvements to the HUD ACA webpage to ensure that you have helpful and easy to access resources and tools to support your efforts to bridge your services with healthcare services.
Health Insurance Data Collection and Quality Improvement
HUD will work to identify ways in which the CoC’s Annual Progress Report template can be adjusted to better capture health insurance status so that changes in this critical measure can be tracked over time. Additionally, HUD will invest in developing tools for CoC’s frontline workers who are charged with collecting this data to more easily identify program participants’ health insurance status both for reporting purposes to HUD as well as to promote more efficient connections to health insurance enrollment options and services.
This TA initiative builds upon HUD’s previous efforts to educate grantees and service providers about the opportunities that exist at the intersection between housing and healthcare systems. Thank you for your tremendous work in your communities. We hope you will take full advantage of these TA opportunities and we look forward to continuing our work together.
Questions regarding this TA can be directed to Roula K. Sweis, M.A., Psy.D., Senior Program Advisor at HUD-SNAPS at Roula.firstname.lastname@example.org.