- Kaiser Permanente will continue its work to mitigate housing security and the social determinants of health (SDOH) through a strategic partnership with Community Solutions, a data analytics company that aids housing support programs in different communities.
The announcement, made today at the South by Southwest Conference in Austin, Texas, outlined both stakeholders’ commitment to addressing chronic homelessness and improving health through community outreach.
“Kaiser Permanente is investing in efforts to reduce homelessness and housing insecurity because there is a proven link between housing and health,” said Bernard J. Tyson, chairman and CEO of Kaiser Permanente. “Addressing affordable housing and homelessness is crucial to Kaiser Permanente’s mission to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve, and to advance the economic, social and environmental conditions for health.”
Kaiser will provide $3 million in funding over a three-year period to the Built for Zero initiative, a program of Community Solutions. Built for Zero leverages data analytics tools to support community leaders in their efforts to address chronic homelessness.
Since January 2015, Built for Zero has helped house over 65,000 veterans and 38,500 chronically homeless civilians. Three of the 70 participating Built for Zero communities have ended chronic homelessness altogether, while another nine have ended veteran homelessness, two pervasive issues that have a significant impact on health.
“Living without a home can have a dramatic impact on a person’s health, yet many of the communities we serve are grappling with extreme rates of housing insecurity and homelessness,” said Bechara Choucair, MD, Kaiser Permanente’s chief community health officer. “We know there is no simple solution to such a complex problem, but through strategic partnerships, such as the one with Community Solutions, we believe it can be solved.”
Homelessness can have a significant impact on a patient’s ability to be healthy, experts agree. Patients experiencing homelessness have three to four times higher mortality rates than patients with stable housing, Kaiser reported.
Chronic illnesses are more difficult to manage without a consistent place to live, while acute health concerns may be exacerbated without a place to rest and recover. When a patient does have a stable place to live, she no longer needs to prioritize other factors over her own health.
The Community Solutions partnership will empower communities to do the work that is necessary for them to address homelessness. This will entail providing those communities with the requisite tools and strategies. Kaiser did not say that the partnership does not include new housing complexes or a prescription model for addressing homelessness.
“We are thrilled to work with Kaiser Permanente to accelerate Built for Zero in these communities,” said Rosanne Haggerty, president of Community Solutions. “Together, we will use data and analytics to help these communities adopt the tools they need to end homelessness and address the conditions that create it.”
The Kaiser and Community Solutions partnership will touch 15 communities in which Kaiser has a medical facility. These communities span California, Washington DC, Baltimore, Maryland, Virginia, Colorado, Georgia, and Hawaii.
This is yet another step in Kaiser Permanente’s efforts to address homelessness in its patient population. Earlier this year, the health system announced partnerships with Enterprise Community Partners and East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation (EBALDC).
The announcement included a commitment to house 500 individuals living in the Oakland, California, area who are over 50 and have at least one chronic condition.
“Housing security is a crucial health issue for vulnerable populations,” Tyson said of the January partnership. “Access to affordable housing is a key component to Kaiser Permanente’s mission to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve and to advance the economic, social, and environmental conditions for health.”