California has the largest number of individuals experiencing homelessness in the nation, with more than 151,000 individuals living on the streets and in shelters. People experiencing homelessness suffer from poorer health, have life expectancy rates 20 to 30 years lower than the general population, and have less access to needed preventive, primary, and specialty health care services. The high prevalence of chronic physical health conditions, behavioral health needs, and acute and infectious illnesses has only been exacerbated in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

To address the challenges related to meeting the health care needs of individuals experiencing homelessness, the Center for Health Care Strategies, with support from the California Health Care Foundation, is coordinating the California Health Care and Homelessness Learning Community. This statewide initiative is bringing together stakeholders from California to learn from peers and experts across the nation about innovative approaches to improve health services for individuals experiencing homelessness. The learning community includes two tracks: (1) providers and organizations that support those that provide direct care to people experiencing homelessness; and (2) managed care plans:

Provider TrackManaged Care Plan Track   
  • Alameda County Health Care for the Homeless
  • California Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems/California Health Care Safety Net Institute
  • Nevada County Health and Human Services Agency
  • Village Health Center and Regional Task Force on the Homeless
  • California Primary Care Association and the Community Clinic Association of Los Angeles County
  • University of California Davis
  • LA Christian Health Centers
  • Ritter Center and Marin Community Clinics
  • Union Station and the University of Southern California Street Medicine
  • Illumination Foundation
  • LA Centers for Alcohol and Drug Abuse
  • Anthem
  • Blue Shield of California Promise Health Plan
  • CalOptima
  • Health Net
  • Inland Empire Health Plan
  • Kaiser Permanente and the Corporation for Supportive Housing
  • LA Care Health Plan and the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority
  • Molina Healthcare of California
  • San Francisco Health Plan
  • SCAN Health Plan

To learn more about participants, including accessing a map of locations and directory of key contracts, visit California Health Care Foundation’s project page.

Over one year, the learning community will:

  • Support a shared platform for participants to learn from each other and foster opportunities to support the scale and spread of promising practices;
  • Identify collaboration and information-sharing opportunities at the local, regional, and statewide level;
  • Educate participants regarding policy levers and opportunities to address the health care needs of individuals experiencing homelessness under the California Advancing and Innovating Medi-Cal (CalAIM) initiative and other state and national auspices;
  • Connect California stakeholders to relevant innovations and experts elsewhere in the country to help accelerate the spread and uptake of promising approaches; and
  • Identify high-priority areas for the field to focus on in subsequent years to meaningfully meet the health care needs of this population, in addition to key opportunities and levers for doing so.

CHCS will distill key lessons from the learning community and share emerging best practices with California stakeholders and a broad national audience to inform efforts nationally for improving health care for individuals experiencing homelessness.