- New initiative expands Medicaid coverage to provide housing assistance
- Eight states and Washington, D.C. selected to participate in federal “accelerator” program
- Rising homelessness rates prompt increased efforts to implement the program
The Biden administration has announced a new initiative aimed at addressing the country’s escalating homelessness crisis. Under this program, low-income individuals in need of rental assistance or temporary housing will receive additional government aid. The initiative seeks to expand the scope of Medicaid coverage in certain states, allowing Medicaid dollars to be used to help individuals secure housing and avoid eviction. With homelessness reaching record levels, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) have selected eight states and Washington, D.C. to participate in a federal “accelerator” program to reduce homelessness.
Expanding Medicaid Coverage to Address Homelessness
The accelerator program will provide assistance to the selected states and Washington, D.C., enabling them to utilize Medicaid funds for housing support. Traditionally, Medicaid has been known for providing government-funded health insurance to low-income households. However, this new initiative aims to use federal healthcare dollars for preventive care and wellness services to improve individuals’ overall health and well-being. By proving that the use of Medicaid funds can lead to improved health outcomes, states can effectively serve the purpose of the Medicaid program while also saving taxpayers money.
Ramped-up Efforts to Tackle Homelessness
While some states, such as California, already allocate Medicaid funds towards housing support for the homeless, the federal government has intensified its efforts to help states better implement similar programs. Arizona, California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Washington, D.C., and Washington are the states chosen to participate in the accelerator program. These states will receive assistance in using Medicaid dollars to help individuals find housing and prevent homelessness.
A Growing Homelessness Crisis
The need for urgent action is evident as homelessness in the United States has reached a new high. According to a December report by HUD, the number of people experiencing homelessness increased by 12% between 2022 and 2023, amounting to approximately 653,000 individuals. This is the highest number on record. The report also highlights the significant rise in rents over the past few years, leading to a surge in rent-burdened households. A separate report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition reveals that a full-time minimum wage worker cannot afford a modest one-bedroom rental in over 92% of U.S. counties. The age group most affected by homelessness is between 35 and 44 years old, and the states experiencing the largest absolute increases in homelessness are New York, California, and Florida.
The Biden administration’s new initiative to provide additional government aid for low-income individuals facing homelessness is a crucial step towards addressing this pressing issue. By expanding Medicaid coverage to include housing assistance, the federal government aims to improve the health and well-being of vulnerable populations while also reducing the burden on taxpayers. With the selected states and Washington, D.C. receiving support through the accelerator program, it is hoped that more individuals will be able to find stable housing and avoid eviction. However, the scale of the homelessness crisis demands continued efforts and collaboration between federal, state, and local authorities to provide comprehensive solutions and ensure that no one in America experiences homelessness.