How and where we work
Approximately 30,000 individuals entered the King County homeless system* in 2017.
Health Care for the Homeless Network served a majority and found others outside.
Many individuals who experience homelessness fall outside of the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS).
This includes those who cannot access the shelter system or stay ‘doubled up’ with others to avoid the streets.
Integrated care teams start where the largest numbers of people are located. They spread out across the region to over 200 sites where individuals face geographic and other barriers to care.
HCHN providers see the same emerging issues and demographic shifts as mainstream providers do. Barriers are harder to overcome when homelessness, trauma, & stigma persist.
1. The aging of the general population is increasing demand for primary care.
While all people need age-appropriate care, individuals who experience homelessness often feel the physical and emotional effects of aging faster and cope with multiple costly conditions.
In response, HCHN’s medical, housing, and shelter partners piloted multiple projects to better prepare our safety net systems to meet the unique geriatric and end of life needs for unsheltered and chronically homeless individuals. Existing innovative projects, like the Homeless Palliative Care Outreach program at Harborview Medical Center, are finding those most in need.
2. The number and rate of drug & alcohol caused deaths continues to increase in King County.
Stigma and accessibility are commonly reported barriers for most individuals who struggle with substance use disorders. These obstacles are often compounded for homeless individuals who fear losing the little they have if they disclose struggles.
In response, HCHN increased investments in behavioral health services with a focus on Medication Assisted Treatment and Naloxone, given that heroin and/or prescription opioids are involved in most overdose deaths. We continue to integrate low-barrier and non-judgmental physical and behavioral health supports in shelters and supportive housing sites.
1. Projecting the Supply and Demand for Primary Care Practitioners Through 2020. Health Resources and Services Administration
2. King County 2017 Overdose Death Report
3. People of color are persistently overrepresented in homelessness counts.