Thousands of Minnesotans who are poor, elderly or have disabilities will get more assistance staying in their own homes and avoid becoming homeless under a new program paid for by the state and federal governments. The state Department of Human Services (DHS) announced Thursday
that it received federal approval to roll out a new package of services designed to help seniors and people with disabilities — including those struggling with mental illnesses and substance use disorders — to find and maintain their own housing, and avoid costly institutional care. The new support services will start in July 2020 and will be paid for under the state-federal Medicaid insurance program. The initiative culminates years of work by DHS and is part of a broader state effort to combat homelessness and help people with disabilities become more integrated into mainstream society. A state survey
released earlier this year found that many Minnesotans with disabilities still live and work in cloistered settings, such as four-bedroom group homes, and have limited freedoms and control over their daily lives despite state efforts to break down barriers to inclusion. Many others with mental health problems cycle through hospital emergency rooms and county jails without ever finding stable housing. The project would make Minnesota the first state in the nation to fund housing support services under its state Medicaid plan, and would help an estimated 7,600 people statewide with a broad array of services.