Giving Compass’ Take:
• Adele Peters reports that hospitals are subsidizing housing in order to improve the health of homeless individuals while reducing costs.
• How can this type of preventative solution improve outcomes and lower costs in other fields? What does it take to shift to a preventative structure?
• Learn more about the housing first approach to homelessness.
During harsh Chicago winters when he was homeless, Glenn Baker used to spend as many as 20 nights each month in local emergency rooms–both because of his chronic medical conditions and, at times, just to get out of the cold. But for the last year and a half, Baker has lived in his own apartment, paid for in part by the University of Illinois Hospital. His health has improved, and when he visits the hospital now, it’s usually just to say hello.
In a pilot program, the hospital partnered with the nonprofit Center for Housing and Health to provide supportive housing for 26 ER “super users” like Baker beginning in 2015. After seeing the program’s success–on average, healthcare costs per patient dropped 18% each month–the hospital now plans to pay to house 25 more people. It is also working with other hospitals to help them make the same investment.
The Center for Housing and Health had studied the impact that supportive housing could have for homeless people leaving hospitals in the past, and saw benefits for patients as well as cost savings. For the hospital, which serves a large number of people living in poverty in Chicago, the program made sense partly because of its growing focus on community health, rather than just the individual care of patients.
By helping someone stay healthier, providing housing can also save the healthcare system money. In the current program, the U.S. Department of Housing and Human Development pays for part of the cost of housing, and the hospital pays $1,000 per month per person to cover the supportive services that go along with the apartment. In comparison, a single day in the ER can cost $3,000.
Read the full article about hospitals are subsidizing housing for the homeless by Adele Peters at Fast Company.
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