COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Kaiser Permanente, joined by the City of Colorado Springs and Community Health Partnership (CHP), today announced a $500,000 contribution to establish the city’s first Housing and Homeless Services Fund. Directed by CHP, on behalf of the Pikes Peak Continuum of Care, the Fund will be used to strengthen the city’s homeless response system and enhance services to connect residents to permanent housing. This contribution represents Kaiser Permanente’s largest-ever community health investment in Colorado Springs.
The Colorado Springs’ Housing and Homeless Services Fund has a multifaceted approach to addressing the complexity of homelessness and housing instability. It will be used to advance interventions proven to decrease chronic and veteran homelessness, as identified by the Built for Zero community cohort, which Kaiser Permanente helped expand to El Paso County and five other Colorado communities in November 2019.
“Single programs don’t end homelessness — whole communities do,” said Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers. “This unique public-private partnership will have a profound impact on the Pikes Peak region. We thank Kaiser Permanente for coming to the table and sharing our vision to address the root causes of homelessness, preserve affordable housing, and prevent Colorado Springs residents from being displaced.”
Specific strategies to be deployed through the Housing and Homeless Services Fund include:
“Safe and stable housing is key to a person’s physical, mental, and social health,” said Mike Ramseier, regional president for Kaiser Permanente in Colorado. “It’s on all of us to step up and formulate solutions to end chronic homelessness and help our neighbors find a place to call home. Our investment is a commitment to improving the health of Colorado Springs community — now and in the years ahead.”
According to the El Paso County 2020 point-in-time count, 1,339 individuals experienced homelessness and 981 people were counted as being sheltered in emergency or transitional housing, leaving 358 people unsheltered.
Lack of stable housing leads to poor health outcomes. People living in shelters are twice as likely to have a disability compared to the general public, and conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and HIV/AIDS are found at high rates, sometimes three to six times higher. Treatment and preventive care can be difficult to access often due to lack of insurance or difficulty engaging health care providers in the community. The life expectancy of those experiencing chronic homelessness can be 30 years less than that of the general population.
“Community Health Partnership is grateful to be collaborating with the City of Colorado Springs and Kaiser Permanente to take action on providing our most vulnerable residents with the support they need to transition to stability”, stated Amber Ptak, CEO of Community Health Partnership. “We have the tools, and now with Kaiser Permanente’s investment, the opportunity to not only dramatically reduce homelessness but also sustain our efforts over time.”
This $500,000 contribution is a continuation of Kaiser Permanente’s overall work with Built for Zero, a nationwide effort that uses data about real individuals and housing availability to try to end homelessness.
In addition to its collaboration with Built for Zero and larger commitment to alleviate the epidemic of homelessness across the communities it serves, Kaiser Permanente recently contributed to Denver’s Department of Housing Stability to help with COVID-19-specific measures, such as housing vouchers and support for the quarantine and isolation of people exposed to the coronavirus. In November 2020, Kaiser Permanente also announced a new contribution to 4 local nonprofit organizations focused on strengthening COVID-19 prevention and response for people experiencing homelessness, including providing $150,000 to Community Health Partnership in Colorado Springs and $150,000 to Pueblo Rescue Mission.
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.
All of these community efforts are paramount to Kaiser Permanente’s mission as the state’s largest nonprofit health plan. In the last 10 years alone, Kaiser Permanente in Colorado has invested more than $1 billion and thousands of volunteer hours back into its communities to ensure all Coloradans thrive.
Kaiser Permanente also has a long-standing commitment to providing high-quality care and coverage to people in Southern Colorado. Serving more than 60,000 members through 3 medical offices in Colorado Springs and 2 in Pueblo, Kaiser Permanente has expanded access to behavioral health services, added evening and weekend hours in primary care, increased same-day appointment access, and expanded telehealth options.
CHP exists to improve the health of the Pikes Peak region. CHP believes that our community is stronger together and serves as the “backbone” organization in a collective impact approach, which allows us to convene and act to improve community health. CHP administers the PPCoC and its programs.
The PPCoC is a network of stakeholder groups committed to identifying and meeting community needs to end homelessness. The PPCoC creates the conditions to ensure housing projects are built and services are offered to individuals and families experiencing homelessness; to give voice to homeless issues in the region; to coordinate planning in support of ending homelessness; to convene a robust forum to address key needs; and to ensure quality and accountability of programs and the service delivery system.
For 75 years, Kaiser Permanente has been committed to shaping the future of health and health care — and helping our members, patients, and communities experience more healthy years. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Since July 21, 1945, Kaiser Permanente’s mission has been to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve 12.4 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.