Without a safe place to call home, it’s nearly impossible to focus on basic health and medical needs. Kaiser Permanente is leading efforts to end homelessness and preserve affordable housing by making strategic impact investments, shaping policy, and catalyzing innovative partnerships.
The COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact on social health needs in our communities, and people experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity were among the most vulnerable. Even in the absence of COVID-19, people experiencing homelessness face a 2- to 3-time higher risk of death than housed populations. Increasing affordable housing preserves homes that improve total health and lift residents socially and economically.
Thriving Communities Fund
In 2018, Kaiser Permanente established the $200 million Thriving Communities Fund to take on housing instability and homelessness, including creating or contributing to the following funds. In 2021, we reached a critical milestone — the preservation and creation of 5,000 affordable housing units — just 3 years after launching the Thriving Communities Fund.
- Housing for Health Fund: Provides equity capital to purchase multi-unit housing and protect residents from rent increases and eviction in the San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento, California. Through the fund, Kaiser Permanente and co-investor JP Morgan Chase have partnered with 4 developers to protect 685 units as affordable long-term housing, ensure necessary property upgrades, and provide residents with supportive social services.
- RxHome Fund: Provides low-cost, long-term loans to create and preserve multi-family rental homes for low-income residents in communities across the country where Kaiser Permanente provides care and coverage.
- Bay’s Future Fund: Invests in development projects across 5 Bay Area counties to catalyze the preservation and production of affordable housing as part of the Partnership for the Bay’s Future.
- Supportive Housing Fund: Funds high-quality permanent supportive housing for individuals experiencing homelessness in California, with particular focus on Los Angeles, employing innovations to reduce cost and construction time to deliver more units faster.
Addressing homelessness through partnerships and policy
Kaiser Permanente’s multipronged approach to increase affordable housing and address homelessness helps improve the health outcomes of the 68 million people who live in the communities we serve.
- By partnering with Built for Zero, an initiative of Community Solutions, we aim to create scalable models, build the evidence and belief that ending homelessness is possible, and improve the lives and health of people in our communities experiencing homelessness. From 2018 to 2020, we expanded from 15 communities to 30 communities in California, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. We have ended homelessness for a specific population in 3 of the 30 communities and are seeing sustained reductions in homelessness in 7 communities.
- Kaiser Permanente pledged $25 million to advance long-term solutions to California’s homelessness crisis in coordination with Gov. Gavin Newsom. Our commitment will support operational and supportive services for 1,000 housing units as part of Project Homekey in partnership with Enterprise Community Partners.
- Oakland 515 housed 515 aging adults in Oakland, California, living with at least one chronic medical condition and experiencing chronic homelessness, in stable housing with supportive services as part of our partnership with Bay Area Community Services.
- Regional Supportive Housing Impact Fund and Metro 300 is an initiative to place medically vulnerable homeless seniors into permanent housing in Portland, Oregon, while building sustainable funding to strengthen housing opportunities and services for people experiencing homelessness.
- Kaiser Permanente is a founding member of Healthcare Anchor Network, a 50-health-system collaborative that accelerates and expands advocacy and federal support for affordable housing.
- Kaiser Permanente joined the Mayors and CEOs for U.S. Housing Investment. The Mayors and CEOs for U.S. Housing Investment coalition is a project of the National League of Cities that promotes federal affordable housing reforms.
- CityHealth is an initiative of Kaiser Permanente and the de Beaumont Foundation that promotes healthy policies including inclusionary zoning.
- In partnership with the National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership, Kaiser Permanente is integrating medical-legal partnerships into care delivery, building capacity of the legal services sector, and increasing access to legal services to prevent individuals and families from losing their homes.
“The Way Home”
In December 2020, Kaiser Permanente released the first season of “The Way Home,” a short-form documentary series independently produced by KTF Films and Bread and Butter Films, to deepen understanding, spark dialogue, and illuminate root causes and promising solutions to the homelessness crisis in California and across the country. The series humanizes the homelessness crisis through personal storytelling, documenting the lives of people experiencing homelessness that are often overlooked, and lifting up promising solutions to end homelessness in California and beyond.
Season 1, which is available for streaming on Amazon Prime, Google Play, and iTunes, focuses on the root causes of homelessness in California and how volunteers, nonprofit organizations, and local government leaders are working together to create innovative, sustainable housing solutions. Season 2, which will premiere summer 2021, focuses on the impact of COVID-19 and systemic racism on the ongoing homelessness crisis in California and the nation.
We cannot solve the affordable housing and homelessness crisis alone. We know that only through innovative partnerships, strategic investments, and impactful storytelling can we move the needle for our most vulnerable communities.