May 19, 2023

Partnering to improve the health of homeless individuals

Grant funds will combat housing inaccessibility and improve health care in the Inland Empire.

Sammy Totah and Georgina Garcia accepted the Community Champions award for Kaiser Permanente's commitment to healthier, more equitable communities.

Kaiser Permanente is supporting 15 nonprofit organizations in San Bernardino and Riverside counties in California to help provide health care for people experiencing homelessness, and to prevent evictions, advocate for affordable housing policy changes and development, and strengthen homeless response systems.

Kaiser Permanente identified an inadequate supply of affordable and permanent supportive housing and an opportunity for organizations to work together to make a meaningful difference.

"Improving health is more than providing high-quality health care. And I strongly believe that good health begins in our communities," said Sammy Totah, Kaiser Permanente’s senior vice president and area manager for Riverside and Moreno Valley.

Kaiser Permanente’s Housing for Health community grant investment of nearly $3 million aims to expand existing services and programs, develop strategic partnerships, and raise awareness with policy leaders and elected officials with the goal of identifying more housing and homelessness resources for Los Angeles’ inland region.

Significant impact on health and well-being

The Inland Empire has been facing a severe affordable housing crisis, which has contributed to the rise in homelessness in the region. According to the 2023 homeless count in Riverside County, there are 3,725 homeless individuals living in shelters, up 12% since the last count in 2022. An additional 2,441 individuals are unsheltered and living on the streets, up 23% since the last count.

In San Bernardino, there are 4,195 homeless individuals, up 25.9% since the last count in 2022, and 2,967 unsheltered individuals, a 24.6% increase since the last count.

Homelessness impacts the health and well-being of the individuals who are unhoused, as well as the broader community. It contributes to higher rates of chronic health conditions and mental health and substance abuse issues. It also poses significant barriers to accessing health care and other critical services.

Combating homelessness through grants and collaborative solutions

The efforts by Kaiser Permanente and its community partners to address housing and homelessness in the Inland Empire through grants and collaborative solutions is a significant step toward addressing this pressing issue and improving health outcomes.

Kaiser Permanente was recently recognized as Community Champion by Inland SoCal United Way for creating healthier, more equitable communities in the Inland Empire.

"We're proud to recognize Kaiser Permanente as our 2023 Community Champion recipient. Their leadership and commitment to creating healthier, more equitable communities aligns with our mission and values," said Kimberly Starrs, president and chief executive officer of Inland SoCal United Way. "I look forward to creating a bright future for all residents of the Inland region together."

"We are excited to support local organizations in bringing our Housing for Health initiatives to life and continuing to make a positive difference in our communities,” added Georgina Garcia, Kaiser Permanente’s senior vice president and area manager for San Bernardino County.

In the next 2 years, these community organizations aim to combat homelessness in the Inland Empire by improving access to behavioral, clinical, medical respite, and housing services, reducing the number of people who become homeless, and increasing the number of affordable and permanent housing units developed in the area.