The Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) told State of Reform that its newly-released Housing Program Guidebook will standardize AHCCCS housing practices in the state.
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The guidebook includes policies pertaining to key programmatic and operational processes for AHCCCS Housing Programs (AHPs), and is specific to the housing subsidy programs provided by AHCCCS through state non-Title XIX funding for individuals with a serious mental illness (SMI) designation or with severe behavioral health issues, and for those experiencing homelessness. According to AHCCCS, the guidebook defines roles and provides guidance for the AHCCCS Housing Administrator, health care providers, community partners, and contractors for the coordinated provision of these AHPs.
After an RFP process to contract with a statewide housing administrator, AHCCCS awarded a contract to the Arizona Behavioral Health Corporation (ABC) and their subcontractor HOM, Inc. in October 2021.
The agency said the standardization of housing practices will improve housing accessibility in the state.
“While the guidebook will not necessarily improve affordability due to market and other economic issues, it will improve accessibility by standardizing housing application, waitlist, and housing administration practices … By standardizing the housing processes, the guidebook will improve quality by ensuring standard activities like housing quality inspections, fair and accurate rent calculations, and setting basic housing standards.”
The agency said that it currently provides housing to 2,500 people at any given time, and that the guidebook also includes recommendations for behavioral health providers on ways to better incorporate behavioral health services into AHCCCS permanent supportive housing practices.
“The guidebook [is] necessary to document standardized practices, quality standards, program goals, and most importantly to ensure transparency for providers, members and other stakeholders participating in the AHCCCS Housing Program,” AHCCCS said.
AHCCCS said they consulted with community stakeholders groups to gather information for establishing standard program guidelines, as well as based many guidebook policies on standards used by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Housing Choice Voucher programs and experience from ABC/HOM’s history serving their populations.
While AHCCCS tried to develop policies that met the unique needs of its target populations, the agency said the guidebook is meant to be an evolving document that is regularly updated to ensure it “reflects best practices in housing administration and that it meets the needs of the members served” and complies with current legal standards.
The guidebook takes effect immediately.