In January of last year, Kaiser Permanente and Oakland-based Bay Area Community Services (BACS) partnered to find homes for 515 aging homeless residing in their hometown in order to tackle the Bay Area’s homeless problem. This month, Kaiser and BACS announced that they have found homes for 250 aging homeless, about half of their projected goal.
As the Bay Area deals with a major housing crisis, their homeless population has been at an all-time high. For example, Alameda County’s homeless population increased 43 percent with numbers rising above 8,000 people.
The housing crisis is intertwined with health issues, as well. Recent studies find that the average life expectancy of people without housing falls by 27 years. Homeless people are also more susceptible to health conditions such as diabetes and hypertension, high blood pressure, mental health and heart problems.
According to BACS executive director Jaime Almanza, finding housing for the aging homeless population is an individualized process. A proper home might range from finding a room in East Oakland to facilitating family reunification or permanent supportive housing. After finding a home for an aging homeless persons, BACS offers further services such as assisted trips to the doctor’s office and legal assistance.
The program also makes sure that these homes are affordable so that the aging homeless can stay long term. As Almanza stated, “The main piece of this program is the rent has to be sustainable. It’s critical that every person can afford a rent and hold their own lease.”
BACS is continuing their search of landlords who are willing to provide housing for formerly homeless individuals. Since the start of this pilot program, Kaiser has also provided $200 million for an impact investing fund that will buy and preserve affordable housing in the Bay Area, and they have invested $50 million to a national loan fund.
Read more about this story here.