Making the Case with Medicaid Data, talking the Same Language and Not Using a “Wait and See” Approach Critical in Helping End Homelessness
On June 6, 2018, a team of private and public partners working to end homelessness in New Jersey presented at the annual CSH conference in Los Angeles on “Homelessness and Medicaid Use: The Impact of Housing and Services.”
The workshop was attended by over 50 professionals working to end homelessness from across the country who were eager to learn about the New Jersey research and who engaged in an interactive Q & A period with the audience.
New Jersey experts presenting included:
- Emmy Tiderington, PhD, MSW, LMSW, Assistant Professor, School of Social Work, Associate Faculty, Institute for Health, Health Care Policy & Aging Research, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. She presented the data from the Center for State Health Policy/Institute for Health, Healthcare Policy and Aging Research on the impact of housing and services/supports.
- Janel Winter is the Director of the Division of Housing and Community Resources at the NJ Department of Community Affairs (DCA.) Janel has also worked for New Jersey’s Department of Human Services and CSH in New Jersey as Associate Director. Janel spoke about the state’s pilot programs that are proving to be cost saving while also ending homelessness.
- Taiisa Kelly is a Senior Associate at Monarch Housing. Taiisa leads the Ending Homelessness Team where she works with local governments, non profits and community stakeholders in NJ to develop coordinated strategies to end homelessness. Taiisa spoke about the importance of determining what housing and services activities have an impact in ending homelessness, using them in future planning to end homelessness, and how to best structure the system
Kate Kelly who works with Monarch Housing’s Public Policy Team moderated the panel discussion.
During their presentations and the Q & A session with the audience that followed, Emmy, Janel and Taiisa touched on the key themes and messages of:
- NJ DCA’s use of housing vouchers, homeless prevention programs, Housing First vouchers, Moving On vouchers, and the Keeping Families Together program to end homelessness.
- Moving beyond pilot programs and bring them to scale once they are proven successful in ending homelessness.
- Engaging research institutions, key state agencies, and planners working to end homelessness to determine intersection of homeless population and Medicaid spending.
- Explaining the impact of these cost saving housing initiatives at the community and continuum of care levels including redefining how local programs are structured.
- Not getting “caught up in” or “stuck in data”, using a “wait and see” approach and failing to use it to implement proven successful practices; Data should not become an obstacle in the work to end homelessness. Janel cautioned, “People are homeless today and they can’t wait for us.”
- What New Jersey is seeing in terms of homelessness is not that different county by county or even that different from what other states are seeing.
- The study provides the opportunity to have the conversations that the problems around homelessness faced by individual communities and counties are not that different.
- The importance of engaging with state agency and health care partners and begin conversations and the city and county levels and Janel spoke about how important it is all for all agencies involved in the work to end homelessness to “speak the same language.”
- Working to create a housing and services system that work for everyone with the most effective activities
- Ensuring that providers of support services are able to bill Medicaid for services and avoid unnecessary costs or place the costs, as Emmy referenced, “in the most appropriate pocket”