Community & Homeless Health
In early 2019, CommonSpirit leadership and Dignity Health facilities in California launched the Homeless Health Initiative (HHI). As the largest not-for-profit health system nationally and an anchor institution in many of our communities, CommonSpirit Health serves a vital role in providing services and supports, and coordinating the care needs of our patients and community members experiencing housing insecurities and homelessness. Many of our hospitals serve as the resource connector for our unhoused neighbors. This important work has always been a part of who we are as an organization and ingrained in our mission which states “make the healing presence of God known in our world by improving the health of the people we serve, especially those who are vulnerable, while we advance social justice for all.”
Mission of HHI
The strategy of HHI is to co-locate, coordinate, and integrate health care, behavioral health, safety, and wellness services with housing and other social services to enhance the continuum of care. This strategy not only creates additional resources but it also helps providers to connect individuals experiencing homelessness and housing insecurities with resources.
CommonSpirit has committed to invest a minimum of $20 million across California through Fiscal Year 2024 in programs that address two focus areas:
- Housing insecurities and homeless prevention for individuals and families who are at-risk of experiencing homelessness; and
- Developing and strengthening collaborative efforts with local community partners, including the homeless continuum of care, homeless service providers, government agencies, and others to identify opportunities to improve coordination of care and access to community resources for populations experiencing homelessness who are being discharged from our hospitals.
The best way to address homelessness is to prevent it from occurring in the first place. Services can include diversion and immediate crisis resolution.
By supporting community members to address other social needs such as food security, health and energy access, we can position individuals to optimize their resources to maintain their housing.
Transitions of Care and
Persons experiencing homelessness (PEH) often suffer from chronic conditions and comorbidities; as a result, their health can be especially fragile post-hospitalization. It is important to create spaces where unsheltered PEH can rest and recover after a hospital stay. Further, we need to connect individuals to outreach services while they are in our care to ensure they don’t fall through the cracks within the homeless continuum of care.
Housing is the key to ending homelessness. A community should have different housing options available for persons experiencing homelessness as each individual has a different level of need and comfort when it comes to accessing housing programs. One size [of housing] does not fit all and therefore we need to right-size our solutions to meet this need.
In addition to providing direct services and capital, we recognize the need to invest in system transformation that leads to sustainable changes in how we respond to housing insecurities and homelessness. This work requires long-term commitment and active engagement across sectors to transform our homeless continuums of care while also addressing historic and ongoing structural inequities.
Research Equity and Advisory Council to Address Housing Insecurity (REACHI)
With REACHI, the aim is to nurture partnerships between the healthcare system, providers of homeless services, and people with lived experience of homelessness. The purpose of REACHI is to leverage the expertise of those with lived-experience to understand community needs, identify areas of prioritization for outreach and programming, and transform how we address housing insecurities and homelessness. As the success of our community driven initiatives is largely dependent upon meeting the needs of the communities we serve, we want to convene REACHI to ensure that our efforts remain community-driven and prioritizes equity across the CommonSpirit Health footprint with an initial focus in the California market.
Our Interagency Council on Homelessness set aside HHI funds to support COVID-19 crisis response efforts throughout California given that individuals experiencing housing insecurity and homelessness are at a greater risk of exposure to COVID-19. We are actively working to meet the unique and growing needs of our communities while working in partnership with local government, homeless continuums of care, housing providers, community-based organizations and our local hospitals.
HHI History and Geographic Reach
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