Elderly Minnesota residents at risk of being placed in a nursing home who are ineligible for Medicaid supports can look to the Housing Support program, previously known as the Group Residential Housing (GRH) program, as an option for financial assistance. The Minnesota Department of Human Services has established relationships with approximately 6,000 group living residences throughout the state. While the majority are adult foster care homes, these residences also include assisted living and supervised senior living communities. Originally only providing funds for those who lived outside of their homes, those who wish to remain living in their homes are also now eligible for this program. Unusual in the world of elder care programs, the Housing Support Program pays for the cost of room and board. Payments are made directly to the group residences. Program participants do not receive financial assistance.
It should be emphasized that the Housing Support program covers the cost of room and board—not care services in the home or group residences. However, in some cases, there is a special allowance that pays for care for certain qualified participants at some residences. This allowance is referred to as Supplemental Services.
In order to be eligible for this program, applicants must be residents of Minnesota and at least 18 years of age and blind or disabled or 65 years of age and unable to live independently. In addition to the functional eligibility requirements, because this program is intended for low-income families, there are also financial limits.
Applicants who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) automatically qualify for MN’s Housing Support program. As of 2020, this means an individual’s countable resources, not including the value of their home equity (if the applicant, the applicant’s spouse, or a dependent continue to live in the home), cannot exceed $2,000, and a married couples resources cannot exceed $3,000. Please note that persons over the federal SSI asset limit can still qualify, as the housing support program will allow up to $10,000 in assets.
The income limit is somewhat more complicated to calculate. Individuals who receive SSI are limited to monthly incomes of $783 and couples to $1,175 (in 2020). For those who are not SSI recipients, their income is limited to the maximum program benefit amount of $934. However, being over the income limit is not automatic cause for disqualification. Should the applicant have recurring medical costs, those expenses can be deducted from their monthly income. Should a spouse continue to live independently, a certain amount of joint income can be allocated towards his or her cost of living, which can further reduce the applicant’s countable income. For final income eligibility determination, applicants should contact the program’s administrators.
*Individuals who are residing in adult foster care homes are not eligible to receive Supplemental Services. However, they are eligible for a Difficulty of Care payment if they are not eligible for care services via a Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) Medicaid Waiver. The Difficulty of Care payment is also a special allowance that can be used to pay for additional needed services.
The actual benefits and the associated dollar amount of the Housing Support program change from year to year. As of July 2020, the Housing Support program will pay for room and board (rent, utilities, household supplies, and food) at licensed adult foster care homes and assisted living communities up to a monthly maximum of $934. Supplemental Services and Difficulty of Care payments may include case management, 24-hour supervision, medication reminders, and transportation. This can augment the monthly payment by approximately $482.84, this figure having remained the same since 2013. (Providers of this service must be approved service providers with Minnesota Health Care Programs.) The maximum financial assistance any individual participating in the Housing Support program can receive is $1,416.84 per month.
Because of the state budget calendar, Minnesota state programs’ benefits and eligibility may change July 1, not on January 1.
The Housing Support program provides financial assistance for housing for upwards of 20,000 Minnesota residents, 5,000 of which are elderly. To learn more, visit the program’s website. To apply for the program, interested parties should contact their local Minnesota county human services office.