The state Agency for Health Care Administration received federal approval to create a housing assistance pilot program as part of the Florida Medicaid program.
This assistance helps with things like a needs assessment and housing education but will not provide rent or mortgage help. However, the plans may cover certain housing-related activities and services such as paying for one-time moving expenses or bedding.
AHCA submitted an amendment to the state’s 1115 Managed Medical Assistance (MMA) waiver, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services approved the amendment request. That allows the state to pay for flexible services for people with severe mental illness or substance use disorders. Those services could include, but are not limited to, temporary housing assistance.
AHCA officials say the pilot program should start by this summer and will operate in Pinellas, Pasco, Seminole, Orange, Osceola, and Brevard counties.
“Governor DeSantis and First Lady DeSantis are acutely aware that too many people with serious mental illness end up living on the streets, unable to have the peace of mind and protection a stable home can offer to those looking to rebuild their lives,” said Secretary Mary Mayhew in a news statement.
“When the basic need of a home for vulnerable Floridians isn’t met, poverty and homelessness become a never-ending cycle, robbing those most suffering among us of the opportunity to have stability and a sense of independence to achieve life-changing goals.”
The Florida Legislature has appropriated $10 million annually for the initiative.
Eligible recipients will include MMA enrollees, aged 21 and older with severe mental illness or substance use disorders, who are homeless or at risk of homelessness due to their disability.