December 6, 2017

Partnering to address homelessness in Lane County, Oregon

EUGENE, Ore. — As part of an ongoing collaboration by Kaiser Permanente Northwest and PeaceHealth to address community health needs in Lane County, the two organizations are partnering with ShelterCare to support some of the most vulnerable residents in the county.

Kaiser Permanente and PeaceHealth are jointly contributing more than $590,000 to ShelterCare for the creation of a transitional housing program that will provide emergency, short-term housing to Lane County residents who are homeless and battling severe mental illness or medical conditions.

The funds will help ShelterCare transition participants to affordable, permanent housing within six months to a year and address root causes of homelessness by providing health and social support services, including mental health services, primary care placement, money management training and employment assistance.

“We are embarking on this very critical endeavor to meet a very critical need in our community. And, it’s through powerful collaborations such as this that we are to provide bridge housing for this vulnerable population until permanent housing can be secured. This is important because safe, affordable housing has been proven to increase opportunities for positive health outcomes,” said Rand O’Leary, chief executive, PeaceHealth Oregon. “This is about access — access to housing, medical care, behavioral health support and other services.”

“Safe housing is a key determinant of health,” said Imelda Dacones, MD, president and CEO, Northwest Permanente, P.C. “There are too many people who end up in the hospital sicker than they would have been because of lack of housing.”

“With PeaceHealth and trusted community partners, we are addressing an urgent need in Lane County,” said Janet O'Hollaren, chief operating officer, Northwest, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Hospitals. “We will provide short-term emergency housing for people with behavioral health challenges, and ongoing assistance to help them find permanent housing.”

According to Lane County’s 2017 Annual Homeless Point in Time Count, more than 1,500 individuals were reported as homeless, with 45 percent struggling with behavioral health issues or substance abuse disorders.

ShelterCare, with its proven results of assisting more than 1,200 adults annually with severe mental illness or medical conditions, is uniquely suited to address the housing and support needs of the community. More than 70 percent of families facing homelessness who complete ShelterCare’s current programs move on to stable housing. The new program will directly address the ongoing affordable housing crisis in Lane County, which has created extremely limited vacancies and multi-year waitlists.

"Lane County governments and non-profit service partners have passionately and collaboratively worked to end homelessness for nearly three decades, said Susan Ban, executive director of ShelterCare. “In spite of the social and economic factors that fuel a growing homelessness crisis, our community has made progress and hosts several exciting models that work. In just the past year, our shared embrace of yet another new approach demonstrated improved housing outcomes while measuring a significant cost savings to the community.

“This Kaiser Permanente-PeaceHealth grant will facilitate a new leap forward toward even greater successes by providing additional housing for people with severe mental illnesses or medical conditions. The grant will act as a bridge to permanent supportive housing. Accessing housing is the key to unlocking the effectiveness of other community service supports."

As part of this initiative, Kaiser Permanente and PeaceHealth will work closely with ShelterCare and other community agencies to develop a plan to collaboratively address longer-term transitional housing needs in Lane County.

The initiative with ShelterCare is the first of several planned community health initiatives by Kaiser Permanente and PeaceHealth. In November, the two organizations announced a collaboration to increase access to care and improve health in Lane County. Other focus areas include access to dental care for people in need, strengthening school-based health centers, and workforce development efforts to support community health workers.

More community health initiatives supporting Lane County nonprofits will be announced in the coming months.

About ShelterCare

Founded in 1970, ShelterCare is a private, nonprofit human-services agency directed by a board of community volunteers. ShelterCare offers a range of housing solutions combined with support services for vulnerable community members who are homeless or on the verge of homelessness. The organization strives to ensure everyone has access to stable, affordable housing and the support to live as fully and independently as possible. Prevention, outreach and housing services are complemented by behavioral health services and social service case management support to promote housing stability and personal well-being. "ShelterCare enriches lives through exceptional services that nurture hope, opportunity and dignity."

About PeaceHealth

PeaceHealth, based in Vancouver, Wash., is a not-for-profit Catholic health system offering care to communities in Washington, Oregon and Alaska. PeaceHealth has approximately 16,000 caregivers, a group practice with more than 900 providers and 10 medical centers serving both urban and rural communities throughout the Northwest. In 1890, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace founded what has become PeaceHealth. The Sisters shared expertise and transferred wisdom from one medical center to another, always finding the best way to serve the unmet need for healthcare in their communities. Today, PeaceHealth is the legacy of the founding Sisters and continues with a spirit of respect, stewardship, collaboration and social justice in fulfilling its Mission. Visit us online at

About Kaiser Permanente

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 more than 11.7 million members in eight states and the District of Columbia, including more than 570,000 medical and 260,000 dental members in Oregon and Southwest Washington. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal physicians, dentists, specialists and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical and dental 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. For more information, go to: