Federal and state agencies are joining forces to improve housing opportunities for homeless Mainers who receive Medicaid and struggle with mental health and substance use disorders.

In a joint news release on Wednesday, the Maine Department of Health of Human Services and MaineHousing announced their partnership with the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to improve community living options for Medicaid, or MaineCare, recipients.

Jeanne Lambrew, commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services Photo by Adam Grotton

“This federal assistance will bolster our efforts to ensure that vulnerable MaineCare members have roofs over their heads and critical services to help them get and stay well,” DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew said in a written statement.

CMS will provide technical assistance to the two state agencies, helping them track and share data to improve services for people enrolled in MaineCare, the state’s Medicaid program. MaineCare does not cover room and board, but it does align services to help people locate and maintain housing by addressing health and daily living needs, the agencies said in a news release.

The partnership will focus on addressing homelessness and advancing community supports for MaineCare members with chronic physical or complex health needs, serious and persistent mental illness, and substance abuse disorder. It will also help Maine DHHS and MaineHousing engage key stakeholders to help implement and sustain housing opportunities and related services over the long term.

Currently, an estimated 2,454 MaineCare members are homeless, according to the news release.

Under MaineCare expansion, coverage is now available to many chronically homeless individuals who did not previously qualify for the program. The agencies said greater opportunities now exist to assist this population, not only through access to medical care, behavioral health care and substance use disorder treatment, but also by better coordinating such services and providing them in new settings. Research consistently shows that housing is one of the social and economic factors critical to improving health.  

“We’re excited about this partnership because it will drive important changes and collaboration to best serve Mainers who are homeless,” MaineHousing Director Dan Brennan said in a written statement. “We’ll be able to provide a much-needed holistic approach to support people in finding and staying in a safe home.”

Randy Billings can be contacted at 791-6346 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: randybillings

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