PORTLAND, Ore. — Kaiser Permanente in the Northwest is funding a $5.1 million project that will take an “anything necessary” approach to achieving the goal of housing 300 homeless, medically vulnerable seniors by the end of 2020.
“Without a safe, stable place to call home, it’s nearly impossible to focus on basic health and medical needs,” said Ruth Williams-Brinkley, regional president of Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Hospitals of the Northwest. “This is especially true for our seniors, who are often dealing with chronic diseases and other complex health issues. Kaiser Permanente’s mission is to improve the health of the communities we serve, which is why we’re advancing bold ideas to reduce homelessness.”
Kaiser Permanente’s $5.1 million investment in the Metro 300 initiative will also catalyze the new Regional Supportive Housing Impact Fund, which uses an innovative approach that will make funding for housing available more quickly and efficiently. The RSHIF, which will pool contributions from health system, philanthropy, and business partners, will be administered by Health Share of Oregon, a coordinated care organization that manages the state’s Medicaid resources for the Portland metro region. With Health Share as the lead entity, the RSHIF will combine philanthropic dollars with Medicaid funds and deploy them to increase the availability of deeply affordable housing with services and to support housing stability for people with complex health needs.
By addressing a key driver of health — housing — Kaiser Permanente is working with partners to improve the health and well-being of the communities we serve, including our members. 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.
“Homelessness is the number one issue facing our community, and solving it requires long-term solutions that address the underlying reasons people become and stay homeless,” said Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler. “It’s a complex problem that requires the creativity and collaboration of everyone in our community, and we appreciate that Kaiser Permanente and others in our region’s health care, philanthropic, business, and government sectors are taking an active role in bringing new solutions to the table.”
Partners in the RSHIF include:
This initiative is modeled on Kaiser Permanente’s successful partnership in Oakland, California, that housed 515 seniors during 2019. Health Share, as administrator of the RSHIF, will allocate the Kaiser Permanente funding to housing agencies in each county, and the agencies will deploy this flexible resource to quickly house a total of 300 homeless people. To qualify for the Metro 300 funding, individuals will have one or more disabling conditions and/or will be referred from one or more systems of care or institutions, such as recuperative care programs, assertive community treatment, hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, coordinated entry/coordinated access waitlists, federally qualified health centers, or warming shelters.
The counties will collaborate with a network of providers to serve the 300 seniors through an “anything necessary” approach that includes housing navigation, move-in and rental assistance, and ongoing supportive services to ensure ongoing permanent housing stability. The counties will track a by-name list of people served, and Health Share will analyze health utilization and outcomes as part of an evaluation of the project’s impact.
Kaiser Permanente was joined by Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury, and other local leaders to announce the initiative at a press conference held at Argyle Gardens — Transition Projects’ new low-income single adult housing development — during a Martin Luther King Jr. Day service project by 150 Kaiser Permanente volunteers. The innovative, deeply affordable low-income single adult housing, funded by the State of Oregon and other partners (and unrelated to the RSHIF or Metro 300 projects), will provide more than 70 people with a safe, clean place to live, and volunteers were helping with finishing touches such as painting, building garden beds, and organizing a food pantry.
Safe, stable housing is essential to a person’s health, and Kaiser Permanente is leading efforts to end homelessness and preserve affordable housing by making impact investments, shaping policy, and catalyzing innovation through partnerships.
Kaiser Permanente’s approach to housing includes a variety of mechanisms and is effecting change across the housing system, from ending homelessness to providing investments for affordable housing development and preservation, and advocating for policy change.
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 12.2 million members in eight 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.