To help protect the most vulnerable in our communities, Kaiser Permanente has awarded $1.5 million in grants to nonprofit organizations in Southern California, aimed at supporting the prevention and mitigation of COVID-19 for people experiencing homelessness in Southern California.
The money will aid individuals who access homeless shelters and have an increased risk of developing and transmitting infectious diseases because of challenges to their overall living conditions. Homeless shelters and other housing and supportive service sites are often faced with limited resources and staff capacity, and outbreaks can cause increased strain to these organizations.
Funding from Kaiser Permanente will support the collaboration between social service providers, homeless healthcare providers, as well as local and county agencies that is necessary to protect these vulnerable community members and prevent further spread. Almost 90,000 people in Southern California are currently experiencing homelessness, according to recent Point-In-Time counts.
“Today, as we fight tirelessly against COVID-19, the immediate needs of our communities have changed, and people experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity are at a greater risk,” said Julie Miller-Phipps, president of Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc., and Hospitals of Southern California, which is headquartered in Pasadena. “More than ever, it’s critical that we foster public-private partnerships to advance the economic, social and environmental factors that impact health – like access to safe, stable housing – so that our communities have an opportunity to thrive.”
The following nonprofits in Southern California will receive grants from Kaiser Permanente: Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, $200,000; Chrysalis (Los Angeles County), $150,000; United States Veterans Initiative (Los Angeles County, South Bay), $150,000; Martin Luther King Community Hospital (Los Angeles County), $100,000; Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission for the San Fernando Valley, $100,000; Volunteers of America Los Angeles (Los Angeles County), $100,000; Mercy House (Orange County), $200,000; Community Action Partnership of San Bernardino, $100,000; City of Riverside, Office of Homeless Solutions, $100,000; PATH San Diego, $200,000; and Bakersfield Kern Regional Homeless Collaborative, $100,000.
“Without a safe, stable place to live, it is nearly impossible to maintain or improve health,” said John Yamamoto, vice president of Community Health and Government Relations at Kaiser Permanente Southern California. “Even in the absence of COVID-19, homeless individuals are at two to three times higher risk of death than housed populations.”
“Many of the communities we serve are grappling with some of the highest costs of housing and the highest rates of homelessness in the United States, leading to significant challenges for the health of our members and residents,” Miller-Phipps noted. “Our understanding of health is evolving, and it is much more expansive than health care. The quality of where and how we live, work, learn and play has a big impact on our health because ultimately, better health outcomes begin where health starts – in our communities.”