OPWDD vs OMH Funding
Last week I attended "The Shifting Landscape of Supportive Housing Finance in New York" conference at Nixon Peabody in Manhattan. This conference/panel has very little to do with the NY State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) funding that our DD population (Dustin Sweeney and his friends) live in. OPWDD is a completely separate "bucket of funding" that is distinct from this conference.
This conference was mainly focused on the New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH) and Governor Cuomo's 20,000 Units of Supportive Housing Across New York State that primarily deals with the homeless population, substance abuse, AIDS, and similar issues. OPWDD has NOTHING to do with this initiative. This was confirmed by:
- Panelist Sean Fitzgerald of NY State Homes and Community Renewal, and
- Kristin Miller, Director of CSH - Kristin is a FOJJ (Friend of John Maltby and Joe Campagna). Kristin is a HUGE knowledge source in Supported Housing.
Why should I read on if this is NOT OPWDD funding and why don't we get ANY of these 20,000 Cuomo units?
- It took me a long time to understand how separate the OPWDD and OMH worlds are in Albany. I want to say it again, if you are in the NY State OPWDD world, as of today there are ZERO units allotted to OPWDD under the 20,000 units mentioned above.
- This is an evolving conversation and Panelist Sean Fitzgerald made a point of talking about "Integration" for the OPWDD population. "Integration" is being driven by Washington DC, and OPWDD is looking for solutions as they evolve from Institutions (see Willowbrook era), to Group Homes, and now to the evolving "Inclusion Models".
- "25%" - This is the estimate number that Panelist Sean Fitzgerald put out for OPWDD's inclusion model. For example, let's say that we got funding for a 100 person unit in New York State. As of today we could only put in 25 people (estimate) from the OPWDD world. The remaining 75% would have to come from affordable or "market rate" units. 25% is a target rate, and while I have heard a range of 15-30%, there are no conversations today that 50+% of the OPWDD population would fill up the units. Integration of the Developmentally Disabled population is the here and now. Dustin Sweeney, as a DD example, has been in a school system where his "Autism diagnosis" drove him to the schools that he attended. That will soon come to an end in 2018 when he ages out of the NYC school system. I now consider this a good thing but I did not start this DD Housing education process with that belief.
- In order to make "Inclusion" work, it is my belief that an example like Dustin Sweeney (OPWDD-Autism) will have to integrate into new populations that can support him and lower the cost for his long term care. As Dustin has a brother in the United States Navy, I have started some early conversations with Veterans groups. There will be many other models that need to be examined as the OPWDD community evolves.
- The Office of Mental Health (OMH) world has gotten Wall Street involved. The DD Community, in collaboration with OPWDD, need to study and see how "tax credits" and other financial tools can support the OPWDD population. OMH's "Empire State Supportive Housing Initiative Inter-Agency Service and Operating Funding Opportunity" is up and running. To date, 1200 units have been awarded. None of the 1200 units are for the Developmentally Delayed population, but this rollout is a model for the DD community to watch and examine.
Here is the original invite and agenda for the conference:
The landscape of supportive housing finance has shifted in New York. With new sources of capital financing from NYS Homes and Community Renewal and operating subsidy through Empire State Supportive Housing Initiative, what does this mean for your development project?
Please join us with a panel of industry experts to discuss how to get your project shovel ready and what's next for the industry. The panel will be moderated by Deborah VanAmerongen, Affordable Housing Strategic Policy Advisor at Nixon Peabody. Panelists included:
- Richard Brown, Rockabill Consulting and Development
- Oliver Chase, Hirschen Singer & Epstein
- Steve Coe, Community Access
- Sean Fitzgerald, NYS Homes and Community Renewal
- Brett Hebner, NYS Office of Mental Health
- Blanca Ramirez, Hudson Housing Capital
- Jennifer Trepinski, CSH
- David Walsh, Chase Community Development Banking