Finding Housing and Support Services During a Pandemic
by Maria Greene, APS TARC Team Member
Adult protective services (APS) programs and their community partners work diligently to refer and locate housing and support services for adults in need. Finding housing and support services for a person can be challenging even during non-pandemic times. The following information and resources may assist APS staff in finding housing and support services for older adults and people with disabilities.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic Funding
COVID-19 funding doesn’t create new programs but does provides additional funds for existing programs and services to address the needs of communities and people impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The President declared the Coronavirus (COVID-19) as a national emergency on March 13, 2020. This allowed for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to provide aid and assistance to states requesting federal assistance. All states and territories asked for and received FEMA assistance and federal funds to be matched with state funds.
Congress appropriated funding through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES)
to be administered through federal agencies and allocated to states for the support of citizens during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Individual states work with FEMA to determine how to use the emergency funds and resources in their state. Check with your state emergency management office or Governor’s office to learn about available emergency services funding. Examples of temporary, emergency funded services may include:
U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
- Mobile hospital units in strategic areas where the permanent hospitals have reached capacity for acute care.
- State creation of temporary shelters for non-acute care of homeless people with COVID-19 for the recommended 14-day quarantine period.
website announcements describe phased-in CARES Act funding available to states for:
- Affordable housing for non-elderly people with disabilities
- Low-income Americans living in public housing
- People experiencing homelessness and people with comprised immune systems
HUD provides a listing by state of the organizations that received CARES funding.
Skilled Nursing Facilities and Residential Care Communities
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Long Term Care Facilities (Skilled Nursing Facilities and/or Nursing Facilities): CMS Flexibilities to Fight COVID-19 provides guidance entitled, “Patients Over Paperwork” that allows states to approve the designation of some skilled nursing facilities as COVID-19 step-down (from acute care) facilities. In addition, other buildings not previously licensed or certified as a skilled nursing facility may be temporarily certified to care for people with COVID-19 step-down care needs. APS staff may be able to access temporary care and housing for clients testing positive for COVID-19.
Check with your state’s licensing and certification agency for a list of facilities accepting people with COVID-19+ or recovering from COVID-19 care needs.
CMS offers states Coronavirus Waivers and Flexibility, known as “blanket waivers.” An example is that a state may ask permission of CMS for family members or others to be a Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services recipient’s caregiver. Direct care workers who provide services under Medicaid waivers (1915 and 1115) may accompany people with disabilities as they enter hospitals to continue to provide services that are not provided by the hospital. Check with your state’s Medicaid agency for information about any “blanket waivers” requested and permission given to operate Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) programs differently during the pandemic.
Some states HCBS wavier programs for older adults and adults with disabilities allow for the Medicaid eligible person to receive care in a residential care community. The CMS Facility-Based care page provides more information. Check with your state’s Medicaid agency for information for HCBS program and residential care communities.
CARES Act funding for supportive services is temporary. The emergency funding was approved for the period of January through December 2020. The funding is allocated to federal agencies to distribute to states using current funding formulas. This funding provides additional funds for programs and services to address the needs of communities and people impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The Administration for Community Living (ACL) COVID-19 resources webpage describes the purposes of CARES Act funds allocated to state aging services departments. The funds are primarily available for access to food, information assistance, referrals for services, and advocacy services.
Adults with Disabilities
CARES Act funding administered by ACL and distributed to Independent Living Centers may be spent on services to support adults with disabilities. These services may include:
- Service coordination;
- Services and activities that assist individuals with disabilities who are at risk of being institutionalized to remain in their communities;
- Services and activities that assist individuals with disabilities to move from an institutional setting to a home in a community-based setting;
- Services and activities that address the shortage of accessible housing;
- Partnerships with local agencies that address food insecurity; and
- Systems advocacy to ensure health equity in medical settings.
The Legal Service Corporation received CARES Act funding to support assistance to low-income clients facing job losses, evictions, domestic violence and other problems stemming from the pandemic. Click here for a list of state LSC grantees.
ACL administers the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program (LTCO). State LTC Ombudsmen work to resolve problems related to the health, safety, welfare, and rights of individuals who live in LTC facilities, such as nursing homes, board and care and assisted living facilities, and other residential care communities. The LTCO program received CARES act funding to continue the provision of services to residents remotely and to purchase personal protective supplies for in-person visits.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Economic Impact Payments website provides information regarding economic impact payments to citizens. As noted on this page, “Eligible retirees and recipients of Social Security retirement, survivor, or disability benefits (SSDI), Railroad Retirement benefits, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and VA Compensation and Pension (C&P), who do not file a tax return, will receive a $1,200 payment automatically. For people who have little or no income and didn’t file a tax return or don’t receive any of the federal benefits listed above, they are also eligible for an Economic Impact Payment. They need to register with the Non-Filer tool on IRS.gov.”
If you have reason to believe that a client has been financially exploited via a scam, refer to Tax Scams and Consumer Alerts from the IRS for more information. In addition, review information relative to COVID-19 from these sources:
Information, Assistance, and Referrals and Assistive Technology
- Aging Disability Resource Centers – COVID-19 funding may support direct service needs, as appropriate for older adults and individuals with disabilities. Funds may support technology enhancements at the state or local level, access to food delivery services, virtual education/training needs, etc.
- State Assistive Technology Access Program – COVID-19 funds are available for assistance technology needs of older adults and people with disabilities.
Mental Health Services
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) received CARES Act funding to address the needs of individuals with serious mental illness and substance use disorders. Check with your state’s behavioral health agency to ascertain available resources. Examples may include:
- Crisis services for people in needs of behavioral health supports;
- Expansion of clinical staffing to provide crisis response assessments and treatment;
- Peer support services; and
- Telehealth setup for virtual appointments.
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