In Their Words: What Keeps Community Caregivers Up at Night

March 30, 2017

United Health Foundation and Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance partner to connect individuals to care.

Joe Finn has spent most of his life involved in human services, helping a population that often goes ignored. As the executive director of Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance (MHSA), Joe is leading the charge in the Boston region to help individuals facing homelessness change their circumstances by addressing a critical need – access to health care. What keeps him up at night is the fear that this particular population may be forgotten.

"I recognize how easy it could be to find oneself facing homelessness, without access to health care, so the ability to make a difference, to be able to provide more than just an emergency handout and substantively impact a person's life is greatly rewarding," says Joe.

Individuals facing homelessness cycle in and out of services and are often evaluated with a narrow focus on their clinical needs rather than whole person health. Joe and his team at MHSA are helping to break this cycle of non-connected care by infusing community health workers into the housing process to link housing services to health care resources. Community health workers have unique knowledge about the various systems of care and available housing.

One of Joe's success stories involved helping house a person who had been homeless for 30 years. "Helping a person to finally have their own place, their own home, and to see the difference that makes in their quality of life makes me feel very good about the efforts that we're engaged in."

By using local resources and connecting those in need to personalized care, Joe and his team are helping to change lives and improve access to care. Find out more from Joe, and learn more about the partnership between United Health Foundation and MHSA in the video.