Housing and health are inextricably connected. At a basic level, housing provides safety and protection and access to basic needs such as food, clothing, a secure place to sleep, eat and bathe. When individuals and families experience housing instability, they are put under mental and physical stress and are forced to make hard choices between basic life necessities and paying for health care.
At the national level, Kaiser Permanente is embarking on several ambitious housing initiatives, which we are helping to implement in our region.
Kaiser Permanente Northwest is making regional investments and supporting innovations that seek to address the affordable housing crisis in our region. We are engaged in regional discussions on housing funding and policy, as well as making direct investments in services and supports for vulnerable populations in our community.
For people experiencing mental health challenges or struggling with addictions, housing can be an even greater challenge. Sometimes paying the rent or even finding a safe place to live can be out of reach. Sadly, too many of our community members end up homeless or at risk of losing their housing.
Many organizations in our communities know how to help, and with support from Kaiser Permanente, they can reach out to more people, get them the health care and social services they need and assist them in finding and keeping permanent housing.
In 2016, Kaiser Permanente awarded $2.2 million to seven non-profit organizations to do just that. By employing peers and community health workers, bringing together housing and healthcare providers, and advocating for increased funding and services, these community organizations will make a difference some of the most vulnerable people in our region.
Kaiser Permanente and five other health care organizations took a major step to address homelessness in the Portland region in 2016 through the Housing Is Health investment initiative. Together with Adventist Health, CareOregon, Legacy Health, Oregon Health & Science University and Providence Health & Services, we invested a combined $21.5 million to provide expanded health care and affordable housing through the development of 382 new housing units and a new health center in Southeast Portland.
The health care and housing services are being provided in partnership with Central City Concern, a non-profit based in Portland providing comprehensive solutions to ending homelessness and achieving self-sufficiency.