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PA Plans To Use Medicaid Funding For Affordable Housing

In a five-year affordable housing strategy announced Monday, state government officials said they’ll invest Medicaid funding into affordable housing programs over the next five years.

The Obama administration announced last June that states could use Medicaid funding to help house their homeless populations, and with more than 15,000 Pennsylvania residents either homeless or at risk of homelessness in 2015, state officials said they'll take the federal government up on that offer.

State Department of Human Services Housing Director Ben Laudermilch said the goal is to connect people with “workforce housing” that’s affordable for families earning $20,000 to $60,000 per year.

“It tends to be folks working in blue-collar jobs, that sort of work, but it’s integrated in a community that’s a little more affluent," Laudermilch said. "It’s a community that has opportunities.”

DHS Secretary Ted Dallas said the state is currently housing more than 53,000 people in various institutions.

“We have way too many people who are living in nursing homes or state hospitals or state centers for those with intellectual disabilities," Dallas said.

Since it’s relatively expensive to house people in state institutions, Dallas said the plan to connect institution-bound Pennsylvanians to affordable housing could eventually save the state money.

Commonwealth officials said their five-year plan also includes updating Pennsylvania’s affordable housing database and increasing the number of state housing coordinators from 11 to at least 14.