Summit Brings City, Counties, States Together to Address Homelessness
PORTLAND, Ore.—Today, locally based health care and housing leaders, and city and county representatives met with organizations from Los Angeles to learn how other communities are creating and then leveraging coordination to end homelessness. Sponsors of the summit include CareOregon, Kaiser Permanente and Portland Metro.
“Supportive housing solves chronic homelessness, but cannot deliver the results the people of Portland, Multnomah County and Oregon expect unless it is properly planned, implemented and available to everyone who needs it,” said Debbie Thiele, Western Region Managing Director for Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH).
“The effectiveness is tied directly to a coordinated community approach like the one being adopted in Los Angeles where leaders in health care, business, nonprofits and local governments are joining together collaboratively to plan and implement a strategy that identifies, assesses and then acts quickly to permanently house those facing homelessness,” says Thiele.
Summit speakers, including LA Care Health Plan, Corporation for Supportive Housing and the United Way of Greater Los Angeles, elaborated on efforts to bring resources and sectors not normally involved in planning to the table when strategies are being formulated and carried out. One example of a new funding source was a 5-year grant from LA Care to provide case management and rental subsidies for 300 individuals experiencing homelessness.
The speakers also stressed the importance of recognizing that supportive housing is not the same thing as affordable housing, and that it takes education to help communities understand the value of permanent supportive housing over temporary shelters.
“I’m so encouraged by what I’ve already seen in Oregon,” said Thiele. “LA has gotten real about the problem. When you get real about what it takes to solve the housing crisis, it changes everything. This kind of peer-to-peer conversation is what it takes to move things forward.”
Because housing issues cross jurisdictional boundaries, local leaders recently embarked on several regional planning and funding initiatives. For example, the Metro-funded “Tri-county Equitable Housing Strategy to Expand Permanent Supportive Housing for People Experiencing Chronic Homelessness” brings together leaders from Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington Counties. Together they are developing, prioritizing and beginning implementation of strategies, including assessment and coordination of investment strategies and financial tools, to produce additional supportive housing for people experiencing chronic homelessness.
Many people experiencing chronic homelessness are disabled and have experienced prolonged or repeated periods of homelessness. They are some of the most medically frail and historically marginalized members of our communities.
“There are more than 8,000 students experiencing homelessness in greater Portland each year, including 400 in my home city of Hillsboro,” said Metro Council President Tom Hughes. “We have to work together to help families find stable homes across our region.”
“Housing is health,” says Eric C. Hunter, President and CEO of CareOregon, which hosted the event. “Of all the social determinants of health it is the foundation; and because we know that the housing crisis is complex, we need to weave together many strategies based on cooperation among every partner with a stake in the homelessness crisis.”
According to Chris Ko, United Way of Greater Los Angeles, communities must deepen private sector involvement, improve data measurement, pilot innovations and build systems.
“Today we were able to gain valuable insight into how a diverse and complex community like Los Angeles is coming together to address homelessness,” said Tracy Dannen-Grace, Community Partnerships and Philanthropy, Kaiser Permanente. “It’s important for us to learn what is, and isn’t, working in other communities so we can move forward together to solve this public health crisis.
CSH has been the national leader in supportive housing for over 25 years. We have worked in 48 states, including Oregon, to help create stable, permanent homes for individuals and families. This housing has transformed the lives of over 200,000 people who once lived in abject poverty, on our streets or in institutions. Our loans and grants totaling over $750 MM have been instrumental in developing supportive housing in every corner of the country. Visit us at csh.org to learn more.
CareOregon is a nonprofit community benefits company that’s been involved in health plan services, reforms and innovations since 1994, serving Oregon Health Plan (Medicaid) and Medicare members and their communities. Our mission is cultivating individual well-being and community health through shared learning and innovation. Our vision is healthy communities for all individuals, regardless of income or social circumstances. By teaming with approximately 275,000 members and their families, providers and communities, we help Oregonians live better lives, prevent illness and respond effectively to health issues. Careoregon.org
About Kaiser Permanente
Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America's leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, Kaiser Permanente has a mission to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve more than 12 million members in eight states and the District of Columbia, including more than 600,000 medical and 270,000 dental members in Oregon and Southwest Washington. For more information, go to kp.org/share.
Metro brings people together to shape the future of greater Portland and provides places, services and tools that work best at a regional scale. Led by an elected council, this unique government gives Oregonians a voice in their community. Metro serves more than 1.5 million people in Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington counties.