Some people think the time has come for Medicaid to help pay for housing for the homeless in the name of health and health equity.

“In the last decade Medicaid has inched toward acknowledging the interconnectedness of housing and health,” the New York Times reports, adding that “It has encouraged more state Medicaid programs to cover housing-related costs like furniture or security deposits – basically everything except paying the rent.”

In addition, most conversations about social determinants of health identify housing insecurity as a major obstacle to good health and health equity.  The Bush and Obama administrations invested in creating supportive housing beds for the homeless, leading to a decline of one-third in chronic homelessness, but in recent years such spending has not increased even as chronic homelessness has risen more than 40 percent.

Now, local officials find themselves increasingly looking to Medicaid to help address homelessness, and they have two apparent success stories to point to as proof that such an approach can work:  Philadelphia and Arizona, which have found ways to support housing for the homeless while remaining within federal guidelines for how Medicaid money can be spent.

Learn more about this new interest in using Medicaid money to help address homelessness and how it has been done successfully in the New York Times article “If Housing Is a Health Care Issue, Should Medicaid Pay the Rent?”