HSPAI Call on Supporting Older Populations

Key Takeaways

Leveraging human services response to serve older populations — Key opportunities:

  • Increase access to home and community-based care by enhancing the quality of supportive services for residents living in subsidized housing.
  • Explore partnerships with diverse stakeholders, including state agencies of human services, medical assistance services, housing authorities, and community-based organizations. 
  • Develop a marketing strategy to raise public awareness of accessibility and eligibility of safety net programs.

Discussions revolved around 4 main topics: Housing, Nutrition, Aging in Place, and Mental Wellbeing.


Supportive services for residents living in Housing & Urban Development (HUD) subsidized housing support the ability of older populations to age in place and aims to mitigate unnecessary placements in institutional settings. Louise Rush, Division Director of Aging Services, New Jersey Department of Human Services, shared information on the state’s Congregate Housing Services Program (CHSP). 

  • State-funded program for non-Medicaid participants to provide supportive services to low-income elderly persons or adults with disabilities residing in HUD-subsidized housing.
  • CHSP is funded through co-pays, state general revenue, and casino revenue funds.


In 2018, the national SNAP access rate was 32% among adults ages 50 and older— meaning nearly one-third of low-income older adults were enrolled in SNAP. High access rates can lead to food security and better health outcomes. Currently, Rhode Island has a 51% SNAP Access Rate, the highest state rate in the country. Laurie Cote, Assistant Administrator Community and Planning Services (SNAP Outreach), Rhode Island Department Of Human Services, shared best practices from RI’s SNAP Outreach program.

  • Available to all RI residents bringing awareness and education about the availability, application process, eligibility requirements and benefits of SNAP.
  • DHS utilizes SNAP Outreach vendors and community partnerships to reach RI residents:
    • United Way of Rhode Island
    • mRelief is introducing a SNAP eligibility screener via text and on a mobile-friendly website.
    • DigiAGE: aims to bridge the digital divide for older adults, linking them to technology and virtual opportunities through device accessibility, internet connectivity, training, and online content.
    • additional information available here: DHS SNAP Outreach Plan for FFY2023.

Aging in Place:

Secretary Rona E. Kramer of the Maryland Department of Aging discussed the Maryland Community for Life program,  which is designed with intention to prevent the predictable challenges of aging that can require admittance into a high-level care facility, such as a nursing home or assisted living facility. 

  • Supports older adults (age 60+) by offering non-medical core services and support for aging in place:
    • Home maintenance: helps prevent injury and fraud, and protects home value by offering initial home safety assessments, evaluating environmental hazards, and conducting safety checks around doors and windows.  
    • Service Navigators: Provides a warmline service, helping to prevent isolation through one-on-one personal contact. 
    • Transportation: helps older adults complete food shopping and errands, and can increase access to services, including medical appointments.

Mental Wellbeing:

At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for social distancing and isolation adversely impacted older adults with feelings of loneliness, for older adults who were living alone. In California, Sarah Steenhausen, Deputy Director, Division of Policy, Research, and Equity, California Department of Aging, discussed CA’s Friendship Line California (FLC).

  • Free crisis intervention hotline and a warmline for non-emergency emotional support calls—the nation’s only accredited hotline of its kind.
  • Through a partnership with The Institute on Aging, the California Department of Aging scaled up to statewide services its original service area in the San Francisco Bay.

Questions To Consider As Next Steps

  1. How might your state better leverage policies and resources to enhance and expand current programs and services for older populations?
  • Where can Governors support cross-agency collaboration when considering ways to improve service delivery? What do current partnerships look like, and how can they be strengthened? What challenges have you experienced when developing and sustaining cross-sector/agency collaboration? 

Additional Resources On Supporting Older Populations

Administration for Community Living

American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities (website)

Long-Term Services & Supports State Scorecard – Promising Practices & Resources

National Council on Aging

Upcoming Webinar: Pursuing Innovation: Strategies for Outreach and Partnerships

  • Medicare Improvement for Patients and Providers Act (MIPPA)  and Benefits Enrollment Center grantees use various approaches to outreach to low-income Medicare beneficiaries. Join the Center for Benefits Access on January 18, 2023, for this webinar that showcases innovative tactics to reach new and diverse audiences.

Rural Health Research Gateway (Gateway)

Gateway Provides easy and timely access to research conducted by the Rural Health Research Centers. Gateway provides findings and information to our subscribers, including policymakers, educators, public health employees, hospital staff, and more.

National Center for Equitable Care for Elders (NCECE)

NCECE is a training and technical assistance Center that provides innovative and culturally competent models of care, interprofessional training and educational resources, and technical assistance to health care professionals providing care to an increasingly vulnerable population: older adults.

Master Plan for Aging

ADvancing States