Homelessness and Housing
There has been a clear and continuous rise in the number of homeless individuals and families throughout Washington state. As a group of healthcare professionals and concerned citizens, we recognize the adverse mental and physical health outcomes that are rooted in insecure housing and homelessness. Homelessness is an unjust burden for people of color, people with disabilities, the LGBTQ+ community, veterans, and people with histories of domestic violence and foster care. Therefore, we are committed to addressing housing and homelessness issues and initiatives as a means to improve the health for those who have been most harmed by inequity.
The Housing First model is an evidence-based housing intervention that prioritizes obtaining permanent housing for homeless individuals before expecting them to manage complex mental and physical health issues. This approach provides stable housing options for people who have been unsuccessful with traditional approaches and have therefore been chronically homeless despite best intentions of healthcare providers and social service agencies. Research surrounding the efficacy of the Housing First model has repeatedly reported positive participant feedback, reduced rates of substance and alcohol use, decreased likelihood of returning to a homeless status and various other promising outcomes.
Read More About These Findings and Why We Support the Housing First Model:
WPSR HAS RECENTLY ENDORSED:
THE RECOMMENDATIONS AND GUIDELINES TO DECLARE UNSHELTERED HOMELESSNESS AS A PUBLIC HEALTH DISASTER
The Economic Inequity and Health Task Force at WPSR is working to advocate for effective policies to address the lack of adequate housing for unsheltered persons in our region. WPSR recognizes that physical and mental health problems are disproportionately high in individuals experiencing homelessness. Additionally, we understand that health risks and outcomes predictably worsen as living conditions become harsh during the fall and winter season. No one should have to live without some form of shelter and face a preventable death, disability or disease.
The three health professionals of the King County Board of Health wrote a petition to address this urgent issue. This petition calls on the Board of Health and government leaders to recognize unsheltered homelessness in King County as a public health disaster; and to create and maintain disaster shelter infrastructure with supportive and navigation services sufficient to serve ALL unsheltered homeless people in King County. This petition has been reviewed by the King County Board of Health as a set of recommendations and guidelines to inform best practices before the seasonal return of inclement weather in Fall-Winter 2018.