Press Release: Kaiser Permanente Northwest Gives $700,000 To Support Homeless Services

With temperatures dropping, the arrival of flu season and an increase in COVID-19 cases in our community, organizations that serve people who are experiencing homelessness are facing new challenges. To help protect our most vulnerable community members, Kaiser Permanente Northwest has awarded a total of $700,000 to seven organizations to strengthen COVID-19 prevention and response across our region.

Oregon has the nation’s second-highest rate of unsheltered homeless. While the homeless population hasn’t been as hard hit by COVID-19 as expected, there’s concern that could change as fall and winter weather hits. With limited capacity and shelter options, some organizations worry about how they will address a potential increase in need while also managing COVID-19.

“Like the medical community, our community partners have had to dramatically shift the way they deliver services,” said Jeff Collins, President, Kaiser Permanente Northwest. “Kaiser Permanente wants to ensure they can continue with critical programs over the winter months that help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and improve the health of our communities,” he said.

“Love Overwhelming and its many volunteers are leading community efforts to suppress COVID-19 among people experiencing homelessness in Cowlitz County,” said Chuck Hendrickson, founder and executive director of Love Overwhelming. “With Kaiser Permanente’s support, we will be able to increase our supports, capacity and supplies to monitor for symptoms in our shelters, as well as with those we serve living on the streets, helping to reduce the spread of COVID.”

Grantees represent Kaiser Permanente Northwest’s service area from Cowlitz to Lane counties. Each of the following grantees will receive $100,000 for COVID-19 prevention and response.

This vital funding will enable our community partners to respond to specific local needs, enhance coordination and build capacity among continuums of care, local public health departments and homeless health care providers. Funds will be used to provide motel vouchers, ensure community clinics are safe and can treat patients, prevention and testing programs, street outreach and more.

"Since our founding in 2018 we have never canceled a single outreach shift, regardless of weather or holidays. Despite this year's global pandemic and wildfire crisis, our teams have been in the streets bringing care directly to our unhoused neighbors,” said Molly Pringle, executive director for Portland Street Medicine. We are grateful to Kaiser Permanente for the financial support and ongoing commitment to caring for our homeless communities. This generous grant will support our care coordination efforts so we can adapt quickly to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and continue to care for people on the streets."

“As long as housing remains a critical issue in Oregon, we will continue to spearhead statewide housing for health initiatives to advance total health,” Collins said.

Kaiser Permanente Grant Recipient Summaries

SW Washington

Council for the Homeless (Vancouver, WA)

These grant resources will support the Council for the Homeless as they lead community efforts in Clark County to suppress COVID-19 among people experiencing homelessness. Funding will supplement existing programs and partnerships, including motel vouchers for households experiencing houselessness to safely distance, as well as basic needs, housing access support and prevention at shelters and encampments.

Contact: Kate Budd, [email protected], (360) 993-9570

Love Overwhelming (Longview, WA)

Love Overwhelming will continue to lead community efforts to suppress COVID-19 among people experiencing homelessness in Cowlitz County. The grant will increase capacity for supports, supplies and symptom monitoring in shelters, transitional housing and for people living on the streets.

Contact: Chuck Hendrickson, [email protected], (360) 560-3913

Website: Facebook.com/loveoverwhelming

 

Portland Metro

Clackamas County Public Health

This flexible funding will be deployed to nonprofit partners to augment existing community partnerships, such as support for street outreach teams, services at the county’s COVID-19 shelter and quarantine motel vouchers.

Contact: Kimberly Dinwiddie-Webb [email protected]; 971-219-7271)

Website: www.clackamas.us/coronavirus

Portland Street Medicine (Portland, OR)

As part of their partnership with the Joint Office of Homeless Services, PSM is providing COVID information, “survival kits,” and support to people living on the streets, in encampments and in shelters. Additionally, PSM is providing outreach and direct support to PEH in the County’s Isolation Support motels (120-room capacity). This grant will support Portland Street Medicine’s Medical Director and Operations Director roles, which oversee care coordination for the medical motels, as well as PSM’s ongoing outreach efforts to support people on the streets during COVID.

Contact: Molly Pringle [email protected] 503-568-6344

Website: portlandstreetmedicine.org or https://giveguide.org/nonprofits/view/portland-street-medicine/),

Washington County Department of Housing Services

This grant will support two projects with monitoring to prevent COVID transmission. The Safe Sleep Village is a sanctioned tent program to serve 50 houseless persons. The County is also planning a winter shelter network, which by November 2020 will provide 150 beds of congregate shelter. For Safe Sleep Village, DHS is working with County Health and Human Services to bring substance use disorder, mental health, and housing case management services on-site, but currently lacks funding to provide COVID-19 supports. This funding will also provide staff to provide wellness checks and symptom monitoring at the County’s five winter shelters.

Contacts:

Annette Evans, [email protected]

503-846-4760

Care Coordination Program and needs in our community for houseless services

Mary Sawyers, [email protected]

503-726-6459

COVID-10 response in Washington County

Website: https://www.co.washington.or.us/Housing/EndHomelessness/homeless-programs-and-events.cfm

Marion & Polk Counties

Northwest Human Services (Salem, OR)

These grant resources will support Northwest Human Services in their work with Marion and Polk County Public Health to suppress COVID-19 among people experiencing homelessness in Marion and Polk County. This funding will supplement and align with existing COVID suppression and testing efforts including access to testing and supports for clients, staff and volunteers at the adult and youth day centers, transitional housing and/or the health clinic.

Contact: Kristin Kuenz-Barber, [email protected], (503) 588-5820

Website: www.northwesthumanservices.org/help.html#anchor_152,

Lane County

White Bird Clinic (Eugene, OR)

White Bird will make two of their new exam rooms negative pressure rooms, as part of a larger project to upgrade their facility and add physical capacity to safely diagnose and treat individuals with symptoms consistent with COVID-19. This will enable White Bird to provide primary care to patients that otherwise have few options besides urgent care or emergency department treatment. Offering care on-site will allow White Bird to better coordinate care for these individuals, strengthen partnerships with referring agencies and organizations, and help coordinate community efforts to suppress COVID-19 among people experiencing homelessness in Lane County.

Contact: Chris Hecht, [email protected], (541) 343-5771

Website: https://whitebirdclinic.org/donate/

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