Effectively managing a chronic health condition involves a myriad of tasks for anyone, ranging from scheduling and getting to frequent doctor appointments to regularly taking and refilling numerous medications and eating a healthy diet. Being homeless makes these basic tasks even more overwhelming, particularly if combined with additional chronic health and/or behavioral health conditions, which so many homeless individuals have.
Compared to individuals who are stably housed, people who are homeless are more likely to visit the emergency room, have a longer stay if admitted to the hospital, and be readmitted within 30 days. “Housing first” proponents suggest that in order for homeless individuals to effectively manage their health and mental health conditions, they must first be housed. More and more evidence shows that housing homeless individuals leads to reductions in health care utilization and costs.
In this Health Affairs blog post, CHCS’ Kathy Moses and Rachel Davis highlight how programs in California, New York, and Massachusetts are prioritizing stable housing for people who are homeless in hopes of improving their health while saving taxpayer dollars.