Housing Is Healthcare

The intersection between housing and healthcare is a topic that we at EHF have been thinking about a lot lately.  The correlation between experiencing homelessness and poor health outcomes is almost commonsense, and yet the housing and healthcare sectors remain largely independent of one another.  To us, this indicates an opportunity for transformational change, and we are not the only ones talking about it.

This June article from our friends at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation makes a compelling case for improving integration between the health and housing sectors.  Data gathered by Seattle housing nonprofit Building Changes indicates that families who stay in supportive housing for at least 12 months experience significant improvements in rates of substance abuse, healthcare access, family reunification for those in the child welfare system, and dental access and care, among other areas. 

Our favorite quote from the article sums up their perspective perfectly:

The truth is that housing and health care are may be siloed in how services are provided, but they are inextricably linked in the eyes and experiences of the people we serve.

We could not agree more.  If we are going to move the needle on health, we must address social determinants, such as housing, education, and economic status.  As the article states, “the opportunities to integrate and improve the delivery of both housing and health services to families recovering from homelessness have the potential to be transformational.”

This is precisely why our subsidiary, Better Health Together, is working together with community partners such as Volunteers of America and the City of Spokane on the Health, Housing, and Homelessness (H3) program, to provide supportive housing to medically vulnerable homeless individuals frequenting Spokane County emergency departments.  Take a look at Kristen’s page for a couple of slides she presented at Governor Inslee’s Results Washington panel in April for more information on H3.

Download the full PDF of the Gates Foundation article here: