Housing is Health Collaborative
The Housing is Health Collaborative (HiHC) is a cohort of members from the healthcare sector and homelessness service sector, with a shared goal of using a public health approach to preventing and reducing homelessness, and to ensure cohesive, equitable health care and housing services for those experiencing homelessness.
Convening monthly since Oct. 2021, HiHC grew out of the recognition from leaders in the healthcare and homeless sectors that the opportunities to collaborate with and across healthcare organizations (including the Medicaid Accountable Entity program) could be a catalyst to sector-wide collaboration to address homelessness in Rhode Island, and improve the health and healthcare of those impacted by it.
The Coalition is the backbone agency for this collaborative, providing coordination, facilitation and communication support. Other agencies participating/contributing include: Integra Community Care Network, House of Hope CDC, EOHHS, RIDOH, Amos House, Crossroads, HousingWorks RI
HiHC collectively identified three areas of focus in which to begin implementing action steps toward shared goals, accompanies by both problem statements which assess the current needs of each area, as well as strategies for addressing those needs:
Clinical & Social Linkage
As housing is the most important social determinant of health, there needs to be clear and intentional collaboration across housing and health sectors to promote health and end homelessness. Partners should include but are not limited to state government agencies, physical and behavioral healthcare organizations, insurance companies, and community based organizations.
Strategies include: Identifying best practices and pain points within existing housing and healthcare partnerships; convening people with lived experience, insurance companies, healthcare organizations, and community-based organizations to identify areas of opportunity to grow and improve existing efforts; and creating a community of practice to share and workshop data solutions that facilitate clinical-social partnerships towards developing an inventory of strategies.
Currently, there are not enough affordable and appropriate options to meet the needs of persons experiencing homelessness that have acute medical and behavioral health needs. A specialized setting that includes a sustainable cross-cutting financing structure from housing, healthcare, and community organizations is needed to address this critical gap in the housing and healthcare system
Strategies include: Determining system capacity and what is needed to make a difference in affected populations, establishing specific care coordination links between healthcare organizations and medical respite beds to ensure appropriate access, and conducting a Medical Respite program evaluation.
Right now, we don’t have enough people working in healthcare and housing who have the roles, skills, supports, and tools they need to help unhoused individuals and families obtain and maintain housing to improve their health.
Strategies include: Conducting a landscape and needs assessment to determine what roles, challenges and opportunities exist in the workforce development space, enhancing methods and infrastructure to share information about workforce development in a meaningful way, and organizing a proposal for funding a new approach to training that responds to healthcare and housing shared workforce challenges.