Having a safe place to call home is critical to health and well-being. Homelessness — or being at risk of becoming homeless — makes it almost impossible to take care of even basic health and medical needs. But homelessness is not just about the health of individuals. It’s also about the health of communities.
Part of Kaiser Permanente’s mission is to improve the health of the communities we serve. That’s why we support programs and organizations devoted to helping people find safe, affordable housing.
“Housing and health are inseparably linked,” said Mike Ramseier, regional president of Kaiser Permanente in Colorado. “We’re committed to addressing affordable housing and homelessness to improve health outcomes for people who live in the communities we serve.”
Over the past 2 years alone, Kaiser Permanente has provided more than $2.5 million to Colorado-based nonprofits and city agencies in support of initiatives aimed at ending homelessness and increasing access to affordable housing.
In 2022, Kaiser Permanente partnered with Enterprise Community Partners, or Enterprise, to support the preservation of affordable housing across the nation. Kaiser Permanente is helping to fund Enterprise’s Preservation Next Academies, a series of free, public training sessions for affordable housing developers and providers on how they can help preserve existing affordable small to medium multifamily homes. The goal is to keep families and residents in their homes and stabilize communities to prevent homelessness and increase affordable housing supply, while also centering a commitment to racial equity. The Colorado Preservation Academy launched on March 28, 2023, to train and build capacity for the following housing providers:
“A critical mass of America’s affordable homes are in small and medium multifamily properties,” said Jacqueline Waggoner, president, Solutions Division, Enterprise Community Partners. “With Kaiser Permanente’s generous support of our Preservation Next program and academies in Colorado, California, and Georgia, we’ll work alongside partners on the ground to protect this vital housing stock and ensure families can access healthy, affordable homes in stable communities.”
Our RxHome Fund provides low-cost, long-term loans. Since 2018, over 1,100 units of affordable housing have been developed or preserved in Colorado through our impact investments. We helped support the development of the Colorado Department of Local Affairs’ Division of Housing Tenancy Support Services program (voluntary, flexible, low-barrier services offered to tenants to promote housing attainment and retention and optimize health outcomes). Last year, this program supported 749 households across 22 supportive housing programs.
We also partnered with Community Solutions to create the first Built for Zero state team. Since 2019, over 3,000 veterans and chronically homeless individuals have been housed in the state and one community (Fremont County) has reached functional zero, essentially eliminating veteran homelessness. Using the Built for Zero framework, we’re supporting the Metro Denver Homeless Initiative. We have seen a 31% reduction in veteran homelessness over the last 2 years. At least 168 veterans in metro Denver were housed in 2022.
Social needs, like having a safe place to live, healthy meals, enough money to pay the bills, reliable transportation, and meaningful social connections, are essential for good health. Kaiser Permanente members and nonmembers with unmet social needs are encouraged to explore our community resource directory to locate community organizations that can help.