SALEM, Ore. — Kaiser Permanente and Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action Agency (MWVCAA) have teamed up in their work to address the housing epidemic by partnering with Project HOME, a holistic housing project designed to assist the chronically homeless population in Marion and Polk counties.
A $1.5 million grant to MWVCAA from Kaiser Permanente’s national community benefit fund, a donor-advised fund from the East Bay Community Foundation, will support Project HOME. The initiative will be led by the ARCHES Project, MWVCAA’s homeless outreach and sheltering division.
Project HOME was created with the goal of helping unhoused individuals and families secure permanent housing and improve their mental and physical health, and helping reduce their dependency on services such as emergency care and law enforcement to address chronic conditions and daily needs. Project HOME will include efforts to support Kaiser Permanente members and people in Marion and Polk counties who are experiencing homelessness or are at risk of becoming homeless.
“The rates of chronic homelessness in Salem are considerably higher than other communities in Oregon. Recent figures show about 64% of our homeless population is experiencing chronic homelessness, which is almost double the national average. This program in particular will be one of the largest housing programs for people who are homeless in Salem’s history,” said Jimmy Jones, executive director of Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action Agency.
The Marion-Polk region is 1 of 3 communities across the nation to receive Kaiser Permanente funding for the Project HOME initiative. Kaiser Permanente selected MWVCAA and the greater Salem area based on the rise in chronically homeless individuals and limited affordable housing, and MWVCAA’s expertise and readiness to implement this work.
“We know that housing is a key driver of health, and that’s why we are working with partners like Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action Agency to improve the health and well-being of people in the communities we serve, including our members,” said Jeff Collins, regional president of Kaiser Permanente in the Northwest. “As a health care organization, Kaiser Permanente recognizes that individuals who are homeless have a higher rate of hospital readmissions and emergency room visits while also suffering from poorer health outcomes and higher mortality rates.”
The ARCHES Project team will work with Kaiser Permanente’s local medical teams to identify high-risk individuals and bring them into the program. As the program evolves, the team’s focus will expand to other populations with the goal of connecting more than 100 individuals with long-term stable housing and support services by the end of 2023.
Ashley Hamilton, director of the ARCHES Project at MWVCAA, said, “We know that many in our unsheltered population experience worsening health conditions as a result of limited access to medical services while also lacking safe housing needed for recovery or health management. Programs like Project HOME that connect health systems and housing are all the more critical when creating solutions to end homelessness.”
Project HOME is the newest project to come from the partnership between Kaiser Permanente and MWVCAA. Other Kaiser Permanente collaborations to address housing and homelessness include Redwood Crossings supportive housing development; Connect Oregon, a closed-loop social services referral network; and Built for Zero, a data-driven initiative to help evolve how local homeless response systems work.
“We’re proud to partner once again with Kaiser Permanente, to help identify the medically fragile among our homeless neighbors and help them connect to housing,” said Jimmy Jones. “We have lost far too many of our unsheltered people to needless deaths the past 2 years. This project helps to connect our unhoused neighbors to a warm, safe place to call home, where they’ll be able to live with dignity and access the support they need to regain their health.”
The Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action Agency, founded in 1967, is the leading anti-poverty, non-profit social services provider in Marion and Polk Counties. We offer tools for self-sufficiency to low-income residents who are seeking relief from poverty. Our eight unique programs were designed for the unique needs of our region—we provide everything from weatherization services to childcare assistance, from homeless youth shelters to nutrition programs. We are innovators, using a systemic, evidence-based approach to bring about positive social change. We believe everyone deserves dignity, a positive future, and a life without poverty.
Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, Kaiser Permanente has a mission to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve 12.5 million members in 8 states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal Permanente Medical Group physicians, specialists, and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery, and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education, and the support of community health.