If you live in a major US city, you certainly have seen the spike in homelessness. In fact, in cities like L.A. San Diego, Seattle, Portland and Phoenix, it has become an epidemic. In many of these situations, the people who are living on the streets are also the highest users of our jail systems, ambulance services, hospitals and E.R.s. The total cost to the healthcare system is immense and the terrible plight of homelessness or housing uncertainty is now being seen as one of the leading indicators of healthcare costs.
Public Housing and Section 8:
The provision of affordable housing that is led by over 3500 housing authorities across the USA makes a huge difference in the lives of those with the least. Millions of very low-income persons, families, mentally ill, veterans, elderly and disabled are housed in these programs. People without safe stable homes are at risk for poor nutrition, exposure to elements, not taking necessary medications, violence and untreated mental illness. These costs run into the billions of dollars and it is time that congress, politicians and the general public start realizing the positive effects of what our public housing authorities are already doing.
Public Housing Advocacy Needs to Change:
The public housing sector will need to start leaning into the housing is healthcare movement if they wish to sustain. There are serious savings being found in programs throughout the country when high needs homeless populations are put into a permanent supportive housing model. Piggy backing on this movement and partnering with Medicaid providers and health-plans will provide public housing authorities and the industry in general more ammunition to advocate for affordable housing programs. Savings from healthcare costs could be funneled back into housing programs. This synergistic effort could result in a new form of revenue and a powerful partnership that could take the affordable housing industry into the next couple decades.
Now is the time for the housing industry to get on board. NAHRO needs to start having more sessions around healthcare. CLPHA is having their first summit in the upcoming months. If your PHA is not working with the health-care industry, you are doing your residents and community a huge dis-service.