Housing and Thriving Schools

Homelessness and Housing

Addressing homelessness was a public health priority before the pandemic, and it is even more so now. Average life expectancy for a person without stable housing is 27.3 years less than the average housed person. Without a place to live, it is nearly impossible for a person to take care of basic health needs such as washing hands and other aspects of basic hygiene, as well as storing medicine. So far this year, Kaiser Permanente has provided grants of $200,000 to Montgomery County and $150,000 to Arlington County to address homelessness among two priority subpopulations: families with children and veterans. Since the coronavirus outbreak began, getting homeless individuals medical care and housing is even more urgent—for their own health as well as the health of the broader population. Kaiser Permanente partnered with the National Health Care for the Homeless Council to award $1 million in grants nationally to organizations providing direct care to people experiencing homelessness. In our region, Unity Health Care in Washington, DC, and Health Care for the Homeless in Baltimore each received $35,000 in grants, and additional funding to various entities is still being considered. We are also closely monitoring and supporting efforts by local governments throughout our region to place homeless clients temporarily in hotel and motel rooms. There is a potentially fortuitous alignment between the need to shelter homeless individuals safely to avoid exposure to COVID-19 at the same time that hotels and motels are suffering from the collapse of the travel and tourism industries.

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