Housing is Healthcare

Housing is healthcare! We recently joined with Mission Health to study hospital use among our Permanent Supportive Housing clients who have been chronically homeless and now have their own home. This is a group of people who have some kind of disability, have the most complex needs, and have been on the streets the longest. The data reflects what we know to be true from our daily work with folks: hospital use decreased by 54% in the year after their move-in.

When people are homeless, their health often deteriorates. They’re more exposed to the elements, the food available to them isn’t usually healthy, they don’t have easy access to healthcare or medications, and they don’t get consistent rest. They spend a lot of their time trying to access services alongside other people with poor health, so illnesses get spread. Most importantly, they generally can’t focus on maintaining or improving their health because all of their energy goes into trying to survive. In the year prior to moving into housing through our program, the 124 people studied spent 931 days in the hospital.

Once people move into their own housing, everything changes. They can choose, store, and cook their own food. They’re not on the go all the time because they have a safe place to spend their time. They’re able to sleep much better. People in their new homes don’t go to the emergency room as often because their basic needs are now met and they’re no longer as vulnerable as they were while homeless. They can access preventive medical care and follow through on appointments. They now have a safe place to store their medications. They start to move out of survival mode. In the year after move-in, the days our Permanent Supportive Housing clients spent in the hospital fell from 931 to 428.

Housing works!  Not only does it end homelessness – it also gives people the stability to get healthy and stay healthy.

Emily Ball
Housing Services Director