LOS ANGELES, CA / ACCESSWIRE / March 6, 2020 / In 2019, the biennial census of people living without permanent housing in Sacramento County reached its highest-ever number, estimating a total of 5,570 individuals experiencing homelessness -- a 19 percent increase from the previous count, setting a tragic new record. In response, local nonprofits and local government agencies have invested and coordinated resources to help assist with this growing homeless population and the public health implications it presents. Among those organizations working to help combat the crisis in California and throughout the nation is Kaiser Permanente, which recently announced its commitment of $32 million to assist with housing insecurity and improve community health in Sacramento, California.
Left to right: Bechara Choucair, MD, SVP and Chief Health Officer; US Rep. Doris Matsui; Sacramento Mayor Darryl Steinberg; Dr. Cynthia Telles, Community Health Committee Chair for the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Hospitals Boards of Directors; Janet Liang, EVP, Group President and Chief Operating Officer for Care Delivery
"As a nonprofit integrated health system, we strive to create total health for our members and our communities, and we know without a place to call home it is nearly impossible to maintain health," said Dr. Cynthia Telles, Community Health Committee Chair for the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Hospitals Boards of Directors.
As supported by data cited by Kaiser Permanente and other organizations in the public health sector, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), homelessness is closely connected to declines in physical and mental health. In her role of Community Health Committee Chair, Dr. Cynthia Telles champions serving the needs of underserved communities by expanding access to quality physical and mental health care to all individuals, despite economic barriers or socio-economic status. Kaiser Permanente's investment in Sacramento, California will both establish new affordable housing and help preserve existing affordable housing.
"Ensuring an adequate supply of affordable housing is one of the most difficult challenges facing communities in Sacramento, California and we recognize the enormous effect housing insecurity has on health," said Dr. Cynthia Telles. "In order to improve the well-being of our communities, we need to build stable housing options and resources to not only help people obtain a home, but keep it."
Kaiser Permanente's financial investment is funding its strategic approach to advancing community health in Sacramento. Of the $32 million commitment, $25 million will be allocated toward affordable housing. In addition, Kaiser Permanente is investing $5 million to expand emergency shelters in Sacramento and committing $2 million to work with national partners to support cross-functional systems change.
"Too often, individuals are prevented from getting the care they need because of a lack of either resources or availability of fundamental services," said Dr. Cynthia Telles. "At Kaiser Permanente, we view good health as fundamental, and our team is working with community leaders and local government to ensure we are doing all we can to improve health across communities in Sacramento."
Kaiser Permanente's investment in Sacramento, California is part of its larger Thriving Communities Fund launched in 2018. The Fund commits to invest up to $200 million in affordable housing. Prior to the initiative in Sacramento, the Thriving Communities Fund produced and preserved 780 units for individuals who classified as financially challenged or low-income, seniors, veterans, and families who were formerly homeless. With this fund, Kaiser Permanente has supported housing security in Washington D.C., Maryland, Colorado and California.
For more information about Kaiser Permanente's community health work, review the organization's most recent Community Health Needs Assessments at https://healthy.kaiserpermanente.org/static/health/annual_reports/chsnapshot2018/ or reach out to John Nelson at John.E.Nelson@kp.org.
SOURCE: Kaiser Permanente
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