BENTON, IL - Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today gave the green light to an expansion of the state's Supportive Living Facility (SLF) Program, an innovative, affordable assisted-living model that provides a popular and cost-effective alternative to nursing home care for seniors and the disabled.
“This program is all about giving Illinoisans greater freedom to live on their own and maintain control of decisions that affect their lives,” the Governor said in a statement. "Our seniors and persons with disabilities deserve a range of housing options and should not be faced with a stark choice between living independently or in a nursing home.”
The Governor directed the Illinois Department of Public Aid (IDPA) to lift a moratorium on accepting new provider applications for supportive living facilities (SLFs) that had been in place since November 16, 2001. The action will lead to the development of an estimated 3,000 new apartments throughout the state in the next few years. SLFs are partially funded through a Medicaid waiver program.
The announcement was made at an event at the recently opened Heritage Woods of Benton SLF. Attending the event were IDPA Director Barry S. Maram; Director of the Department on Aging (DOA) Charles Johnson; Executive Director Kelly King Dibble of the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA); Secretary Carol Adams of the Department of Human Services (DHS); State Sen. Gary Forby (D-Benton); State Rep. John Bradley (D-Marion) and other local officials.
Director Maram said the Department would begin accepting applications on Nov. 16 for a 60-day period.
“There is a tremendous demand for this type of housing, plus the services offered by SLFs, to provide an alternative to nursing homes,” Maram said. “The program expansion will be coordinated with the Governor’s newly appointed Illinois Housing Task Force, which is working on creating a comprehensive affordable-housing plan for the state. We want to ensure that future development occurs where it is needed the most.”
Maram added, “The SLF program is really a team effort by the Blagojevich administration to provide another great option for seniors and persons with disabilities.”
Secretary Adams of DHS echoed Maram’s comments saying, “SLF is a very diverse and excellent program. We look forward to helping bring this model to more persons with disabilities and potentially even other populations in the future.”
Since Gov. Blagojevich took office, 22 new supportive living facilities have opened, more than doubling the current capacity under the model.
There are currently 41 SLFs with about 3,000 units operational around the state, with 29 other previously approved sites representing 2,600 units under development. The state’s Medicaid program pays for the medical care component for about 65 percent of SLF residents. Residents pay for the housing component with Social Security or other personal funds.
The state also helps to finance construction of SLFs through IHDA, the state’s housing finance authority. IHDA has been involved in the financing of 22 SLF developments in more than a dozen counties, totaling nearly $175 million. Of the $10 million project cost for Heritage Woods of Benton, IHDA provided $7.9 million in direct financing, and tax credits that generated an additional $1.8 million in equity.
As the State's housing finance authority, IHDA uses tax exempt bonds, federal tax credits, the Illinois Affordable Housing Trust Fund and other resources to offer below market-rate financing for affordable housing, including SLFs.
"We stand ready to continue to use our resources to help finance these important properties for Illinois' elderly and disabled populations," said Dibble, Executive Director of IHDA. "The Illinois Housing Development Authority has worked hand-in-hand with IDPA in its SLF program and will continue to be a major source of financing for developers who intend to build facilities across Illinois."
Director Johnson of the Department on Aging, which has been involved in screening for and marketing the SLF program, said, “SLF is a fine model in the constellation of service for seniors. We are committed to programs like this that offer seniors a choice and support their independence.”
SLFs give seniors and persons with disabilities a more independent lifestyle option by providing apartment-style living, medication supervision and ongoing health monitoring, personal care, exercise and wellness programs, meals and other services. The program offers “service-enriched housing” not previously available for Medicaid-eligible individuals. Residents live in private apartments with a bath and kitchenette. The program puts an emphasis on personal choice and dignity.
An added benefit of SLFs is that they make a critical range of services available at a significantly lower cost than in a nursing home and can successfully prevent or postpone the need for nursing home care.
IDPA has a certification process for all SLFs. The Department imposed a moratorium on new applications in November 2001 due to the large volume of provider applications and the limited amount of Medicaid-funded slots available at that time. The SLF program is offered under a federal Medicaid Home and Community Based Services waiver. Due to earlier actions by the Blagojevich Administration, there is now room in the waiver cap (up from 2750 to 5000) for this expansion.
For more information on the Supportive Living Program, including the location of operational and approved facilities throughout the state, visit the Department’s website: www.slfillinois.com
. Providers may also find the program application on this site.