Caring for the health of those experiencing homelessness is an issue that needs attention nationwide. In Massachusetts, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development reported in November 2016 that the rate of homelessness increased by nearly 30 percent from 2007 – 2016. This increase is staggering, and the second highest in the nation just behind New York.
To help combat homelessness and get more residents out of the emergency room and into stable housing, United Health Foundation is teaming up with the Massachusetts Housing & Shelter Alliance (MHSA) in support of their Hospital to Housing Initiative. A $1.7 million Foundation grant will help MHSA provide permanent housing for local homeless individuals through expanded permanent supportive-housing providers and the training of five new community health workers (CHWs).
CHW's are the real force behind the effort to identify homeless individuals or families eligible for the Hospital to Housing program and help them access permanent housing, behavioral health, primary care, and other resources. In addition, CHW's will provide support to formerly homeless individuals already placed in housing. The goal of the initiative is to reduce hospitalizations and improve the health of all participants in the program.