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Debriefer: November 23, 2016 

Housing Help

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Napa County headed into the house-everyone breach this week when it announced receipt of a $11.3 million state grant to help the chronically homeless and those at-risk of losing their homes. The grant will be administered over five years and is the first time Napa has nailed down homeless funds other than rent vouchers or other forms of rental assistance.

"This brings a type of fund into the community that we didn't have in the past—the supportive services money," says Mitch Wippern, operations manager at the Napa County Health and Human Services Agency.

The Whole Person Care Pilot program will provide mobile-outreach services and efforts to find appropriate and affordable housing, and ease budget pressure on emergency services, hospitals and jails where the homeless "problem" often winds up.

Ongoing approval for the state-administered program, says Wippern, is subject to the federal Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS), which approved and recently extended a California Medi-Cal 2020 waiver under the auspices of the Affordable Care Act. The waiver was extended by five years at the end of 2015 and, according to a December 2015 letter from CMS to Mari Cantwell, chief deputy director of the California Department of Health Care Services, "this extension allows California to extend its safety net care pool for five years in order to support . . . better integration of care."

But all bets are off with Trump's promise to end Obamacare. "We're not sure what the future is going to hold around the ACA, Medicaid and Medi-Cal," says Wippern. "We're hopeful that because programs like this are designed to have a real return on investment, that it will resonate regardless of who is making the decisions next year."

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