February 13, 2020

Investing in our communities, where better health begins

In 2019, Kaiser Permanente awarded more than $98 million in grants to improve health in the communities it serves.

This time next year, 51 individuals in the Eugene, Oregon, area who had been chronically homeless will be living in their own studio apartments complete with kitchens, living areas, and bathrooms. Last year, Kaiser Permanente awarded a $750,000 grant to support the construction and operation of The Commons on MLK project, which will also provide residents with an array of support services.

“People who are chronically homeless are often very ill,” said Jacob Fox, executive director of Homes for Good, the project’s developer. “We’ll have caseworkers on staff who can work with residents on their physical health, mental health, applying for government benefits, or finding a job.”

Kaiser Permanente invested in the project in partnership with Homes for Good and 3 other health care organizations.

“We’re committed to addressing homelessness and housing insecurity because safe, stable housing is critical to good health,” said Cynthia Telles, PhD, Community Health Committee chair for the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Hospitals Boards of Directors. “Housing is an important part of our strategy to improve conditions for health and equity in communities that need it most.”

Addressing the drivers of health

The investment in the Oregon project is one of hundreds of grants totaling more than $98 million that Kaiser Permanente awarded to community-based organizations across 8 states in 2019.

The 2019 grants included:

  • More than $26 million to support community health providers and their work to provide access to health care for those most in need.
  • Nearly $17 million to Thriving Schools to improve health for students, staff, and teachers — including our new Resilience in School Environments, or RISE, initiative.
  • Nearly $10 million to help communities respond to rising housing costs and homelessness.
  • More than $9 million to support workforce development and job creation to bolster the economic vitality of the communities we serve.
  • More than $7 million to address mental health issues in our communities.
  • More than $2.5 million to minimize our impact on the environment and promote a healthier planet.

“These 2019 grants demonstrate our understanding that good health requires more than health care,” said Bechara Choucair, MD, Kaiser Permanente chief community health officer. “In addition to providing excellent medical care in our communities, we’re committed to addressing the economic, social, and environmental conditions that drive health.”

Grants to community-based organizations are part of the contributions Kaiser Permanente makes each year to improve community health. Kaiser Permanente also serves the community through a range of programs including Medicaid, charitable health coverage, medical financial assistance, and medical research. In 2019, Kaiser Permanente dedicated $3.4 billion to improve health and wellness in communities across the country.