- Kaiser Permanente announced several initiatives to improve citizens' health by creating stable housing for vulnerable populations in the Oakland, CA region.
- The three initiatives are:
- Spending $5.2 million to purchase a 41-unit housing complex in Oakland to upgrade and preserve as affordable housing
- Launching a $100 million national loan fund, alongside Enterprise Community Partners, to create and preserve rental housing for low-income residents
- Working with the city, county and other partners to kicking off a plan to end homelessness for more than 500 Oakland-area residents over the age of 50
- Kaiser Permanente says the initiatives are part of a comprehensive strategy to advance economic, social and environmental conditions for health in the communities it serves.
The health care company views stable housing as an integral component to keeping people healthy. “Housing security is a crucial health issue for vulnerable populations,” said Bernard J. Tyson, chairman and CEO of Kaiser Permanente, in a statement.
In May, the company launched a multi-year $200 million commitment to address housing stability and mitigate homelessness. That was around the same time it partnered with the de Beaumont Foundation on a report that scored the 40 largest U.S. cities on how well their leaders adopt policies to improve residents' health and wellness. Affordable housing was one of the nine health policy areas on which cities were scored.
Health and homelessness are two closely tied topics and poor health is both the result of and cause of homelessness, according to the National Coalition for the Homeless. Housing insecurity and homelessness can affect people's health in a number of ways. The most obvious way is that not having shelter from the elements is detrimental. Homeless people also suffer from poor nutrition, good personal hygiene and first aid care, all of which contribute to homeless individuals being more prone to premature death. Plus, rising health care costs are prohibitively expensive for homeless and low-income individuals.
Homelessness also can cause stress and affect individuals mental health, which plays into physical health. For example, not feeling safe can cause homeless people stress and to lose sleep which affects mental and physical health.
Kaiser Permanente's investments will help to secure affordable housing, which can help the health of those who benefit from the housing units and consequently the community as a whole. It will also directly help 500 vulnerable homeless people over the age of 50, a population that sometimes can be overlooked.