The Addressing the Health Disparity of Homelessness (AHDH) program addresses the healthcare of the homeless with a particular emphasis on homeless families with children. Augmenting the above-mentioned core program offered by The Trinity House, the Addressing the Health Disparity of Homelessness program provides a structured and comprehensive approach to healthcare, healthcare education, housing and supportive services for homeless families and individuals.
Because The Trinity House sees homelessness as a symptom of larger issues, we have tried to identify the challenges our residents face so we can help them overcome their barriers. Health care is often one of the largest barriers our clients face. For the working poor, one unexpected medical emergency or one health-related incident that is not covered by health insurance can set a life on the path to homelessness. Likewise, especially for homeless families with children who need care, medical costs can exacerbate the potential of homelessness, making it nearly impossible to overcome.
For this reason we have created a program entitled Addressing the Health Disparity of Homelessness. This program, operated through our transitional residences but beneficial to non-residents and residents alike, increases access to health care, reduces the costs of obtaining care, and reaches out to the homeless community to educate them about the importance of taking care of their health. We understand that you cannot effectively address the healthcare needs of the homeless without addressing their housing. Therefore, housing and supportive services are key to this program.
The goal of the Health Disparity Program is to:
- Provide a structured approach for access to healthcare and screening for health disparities among the homeless;
- Provide a clean, safe, stable, and supportive environment for the homeless to recuperate when released from the hospital;
- Provide a deliberate approach to healthcare and well care education within the homeless community; and
- Work toward connecting policy to advocacy and service provision to increase access to quality healthcare and health systems to the underserved.
The Health Disparity Program involves several steps:
- Community outreach to agencies and individuals who work with the homeless in San Diego;
- An intake assessment to determine the needs of each client, and next steps to address their individual situations;
- A process by which those in the greatest need for housing, and who meet The Trinity House criteria, can receive transitional housing services as available;
- Community collaborations to provide better access to health care;
- Health fairs to provide screenings for health disparities and direct access to medical services;
- Case management to those in need of health care;
- Health education and awareness programs in the community to increase the level of understanding of health issues with the homeless; and
- Evaluation of services and the program to determine where changes must be made.
While many of our clients have health issues, we have been successful in advocating for them in obtaining the resources and services they need to avoid a trip to the hospital or emergency room. We have secured medical care for many of our clients, 17 of which did require hospitalization and/or emergency room visits for conditions ranging from childbirth to kidney disease, all with successful outcomes.