Office for People With Developmental Disabilities

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New Priority Categories for Housing Opportunities Announced


Dear Friends and Colleagues: 

Who will care for my loved one when I am no longer able to? That is a question I have heard many times while meeting with family members across the state and talking with them about the future of our system. And while OPWDD has always worked to make sure people have the services they need, given all of the changes in our system over the last few years, we recognize that what families truly need is the assurance that their loved one will find a place to call home, preferably before they are in an emergency situation. In response to these concerns, OPWDD has taken a hard look at our process for assisting people to access housing supports.  

Today, I am pleased to announce that we have revised the priority categories for offering housing opportunities in group homes that provide 24/7 support to make sure that people living at home with their families have equal access to those opportunities based on their need. 

Last year, OPWDD began using a process called the Certified Residential Opportunities (CRO) protocol to create consistency in the management of certain housing opportunities. This process looked at overall need for these opportunities and helped us to plan ahead to meet this need using a priority system based on each person’s circumstances, formerly known as Priority 1,2 or 3.  

The new levels, which will replace Priority 1, 2 and 3, are being identified as Emergency Need, Substantial Need and Current Need. Emergency Need will include people that have or are at risk of having no permanent place to live or whose health and safety are at risk. Substantial Need will include people whose family members or other caregivers are unable to continue to care for the person, people transitioning from a residential school, moving from a developmental center or leaving a skilled nursing facility. Current Need will include people who have a current need for housing, but the need is not an emergency. A full list of these changes can be viewed on the OPWDD website. 

In addition to the new levels, OPWDD has committed that a majority of its $120 million in new services funds would support those living at home and allocated $10 million of these funds to help people living at home access needed residential supports.  Guided by the recommendations of the Transformation Panel, we are also working on a five-year housing plan to help our system plan for those who will need residential services in the near future. 

These changes are part of our larger agency transformation as we work to provide more opportunities, more choices and more flexibility, guided by the voices of those we serve and their families. We look forward to your continued involvement and feedback as we work on implementing this and many other recommendations of the Transformation Panel.


Kerry A. Delaney
Acting Commissioner