The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has named 40 senior housing developments in seven states that will pilot a program modeled after SASH®, the innovative, supportive-services housing model created by Cathedral Square Corporation of South Burlington, Vermont.

The 40 grant recipients – in California, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey and South Carolina — will share $15 million in HUD funding over three years to implement programs based largely on SASH (Support and Services at Home), which has been shown to improve senior health outcomes and reduce Medicare costs for 5,000 Vermonters.

Launched in 2011 and currently operating in more than 100 communities throughout Vermont, SASH supports participating seniors who live in affordable housing, including 23 senior housing facilities developed and managed by Cathedral Square, as well as seniors receiving Medicare and living in communities where SASH is in place. The program is voluntary, with services provided free of charge to those who sign up.

SASH combines the strength of social service agencies, community health providers and nonprofit housing organizations to help Vermonters age safely and healthily at home. Full-time SASH coordinators (called “enhanced service coordinators” by HUD) at each site build relationships with participants and get to know each person’s strengths and challenges related to living safely at home. Through these connections, combined with the support of a wellness nurse, participants receive encouragement and support in making small changes that lead to improved physical and mental well-being. Participants also benefit from the role SASH staff play in connecting them with home health services and medical care as needed.

Cathedral Square staff and SASH program managers have provided technical support to HUD since early December in preparation for the rollout of the HUD initiative.

“We are thrilled that the SASH model is once again being recognized as a way to reduce health-care spending while improving quality of life and health outcomes for elders,” says CSC Chief Executive Officer Kim Fitzgerald.

The HUD demonstration will be independently evaluated to determine the extent to which the model helps residents in HUD-assisted senior developments avoid early transitions to institutional care and the use of costly and sometimes unnecessary health care, such as emergency room visits and hospitalizations.

Cathedral Square Corporation, a nonprofit organization founded in Burlington in 1977, is a leader in the development of affordable, service-enriched housing communities for seniors and individuals with special needs. CSC owns and/or manages 30 senior housing communities in Vermont and administers the Support and Services at Home (SASH) program as part of Vermont’s Blueprint for Health. For more information, visit cathedralsquare.org and sashvt.org. More about the three-year HUD demonstration is available here.