As states work to boost community-based housing options for people with developmental disabilities, federal officials say stronger ties are needed between health and housing agencies.

Under the 1999 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Olmstead v. L.C., people with disabilities have the right to live in the community whenever possible. At the federal level, Medicaid and housing officials say they are increasingly working together to ensure that community options are in place.

Now, they’re urging states to establish similar collaborations.

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“As states continue to implement the Olmstead decision and reform and rebalance their long-term care systems, establishing and maintaining relationships with the housing community and leveraging the many housing opportunities available through HUD and state housing finance agencies will be critical to states’ success,” wrote Cindy Mann, who oversees Medicaid at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The comments were included in a bulletin sent to states this week with information about resources available for working with housing agencies.

Mann’s correspondence comes less than a month after the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced a new funding opportunity for states to provide rental assistance for people with disabilities living on extremely modest incomes. For the first time ever, the grants were contingent on local housing agencies having a partnership with their state Medicaid program. The requirement is intended to ensure that those placed in new housing receive appropriate assistance so that they can be successful, officials indicated.

Future housing funds are likely to have similar strings attached, Mann said.