Department of Human Services calls for more affordable housing in Pa.

    New homes under construction in Philadelphia. (Jessica Kourkounis/for NewsWorks)

    New homes under construction in Philadelphia. (Jessica Kourkounis/for NewsWorks)

    The agency wants to provide more housing for people with disabilities, move people from institutions into apartments, and gather data on who needs housing.

    More than 53,000 people in Pennsylvania live in government-assisted nursing homes, hospitals or institutions. But in a new plan, the state Department of Human Services said it’s hoping to move a lot of those people to apartments or homes.

    There’s a good reason to move people from institutions into apartments, said Ted Dallas, secretary of the agency. It’s easier for them to see their families, go to the grocery store, and live their lives. But that’s not all.

    “Even if you set aside what I think is the compelling reason to do this, which is the quality of life for folks that we’re serving, there’s a financial reason to do it, which is it saves the taxpayers millions,” he said.

    Dallas said it costs twice as much to support someone in a nursing home as it does to provide an apartment and supportive services.

    Moving the people who can live independently could be useful in smaller counties in Pennsylvania, which may only have one or two nursing homes available.

    The housing plan also calls for the state to provide more housing for people with disabilities and gather data on who needs housing.

    And the state is trying to bring together a fractured system of housing agencies, so it’s easier for municipalities to know where to go for resources.

    “We want to find ways to make it so that they have a place they can go at the state level where we’re speaking with one voice, we’re making them aware of the resources we have out there and helping them navigate through the process,” Dallas said.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.