What We're Talking About is a new weekly column from USICH Communications on the topics and issues in the news and on our minds. Topics range from international and national conferences, news from around the country, innovative work to highlight, and more. We look forward to catching you up on news you may have missed and connect you to articles and resources.
The importance of integrating health care and housing in our work to end homelessness cannot be overstated. Homelessness exacerbates health issues, and for those living unsheltered, the streets can be a dangerous and inadequate place to receive consistent access to care or recover from injuries. A safe, stable place to call home is pivotal for those with poor health or those with chronic conditions. Housing also provides a way to ensure that preventable diseases and illness does not occur.
The mobile van team at Health Care for the Homeless in Alameda County sheds light on these issues at a local level, where they see individuals in need of both primary and behavioral health care without consistent access to care.
Learn more about Health Care for the Homeless providers here
Combining housing assistance with social services and healthcare is an effective and cost-saving intervention for homeless and unstably housed individuals and families when right-sized to their needs. Integrating housing with services is an especially effective way to address complex problems for specific populations, including those living with HIV/AIDS, mental illness, chronic substance abuse, and those with histories of violence. USICH’s Laura Zeilinger spent time this week talking to SAMHSA’s Community Mental Health Services Block Grant recipients on this intersection, and ways in which their work helps us achieve the goals of Opening Doors.
Neighborhoods, Housing and Health
This quarter’s ShelterForce Magazine from the National Housing Institute with the headline, “Are our neighborhoods making us sick?” focused on the connection between housing/community development and health care. Their headline article urged the community development and health sectors to work across silos to ensure that planning for adequate access to the health care and supportive services is a major component in any community development plan. The magazine’s articles focused on a variety of profiles and local solutions, including an article on Housing First.
Social Impact Bonds in Massachusetts
Collaboration is also at the forefront of another big announcement this week in Massachusetts, where the Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Association, in partnership with the Corporation for Supportive Housing, Third Sector Capital, and the United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack County won a competitive bid for social innovation fund (or social impact bond) financing for a project to develop supportive housing solutions. Massachusetts is the first state to use this “Pay for Success” model in delivery of social services, and we are pleased to know that ending homelessness is a priority for this innovative model.
USICH also released a newsletter focusing on rural homelessness this week. Rural Americans are between 1.2 and 2.3 times more likely to be poor than their metropolitan counterparts, and many times are isolated from resources. Intergenerational poverty and persistent unemployment plagues many of these areas, and while the causes of homelessness are similar to urban areas, the solutions need to be different. USICH spoke with innovators from Washington State, Vermont, and Appalachia on what we need to know about rural homelessness, sharing solutions on how to make progress.
Some other great clips/resources:
For many of those struggling to get by, the interaction between low wages and mainstream benefit programs is a challenge. This article discusses the new Net Income Calculator from the Urban Institute and also details the experience of living in poverty in dollars and cents.
A local story from Maryland highlights the continuance of rapid rehousing after HPRP.