Ending Homelessness Today — Health
Here Are the Transformation Talks from our 2014 National Conference
August 25, 2014
This year we did something different at our National Conference. Well, actually, we did several things different. We added a workshop session, increased the number of speakers (including the First Lady), and we added a new speaking format to one of our plenary sessions. It’s that last one I’d like to talk about here, the new speaking format.
Implementing a new speaking format, as you may already be thinking, is hardly revolutionary. But if you’re a fan of TED Talks, as we are, you may appreciate the change. The idea was to book three speakers with distinct viewpoints to deliver remarks that were concise (not longer than 10 minutes), focused, and ultimately, we hoped, engaging for the audience.
We weren’t adhering to official TEDx rules, so we called these speeches “Transformation Talks.” They took place during our luncheon plenary, July 31, and they addressed the role of faith-based organizations in ending homelessness, the connection between housing and health care, and why “bureaucracy” shouldn’t be considered a dirty word.
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Homelessness and Substance Use: The Numbers Don’t Tell the Whole Story
April 14, 2014
It’s not uncommon for people experiencing homelessness to also struggle with alcohol and drug problems. In the 2013 homeless Point-In-Time Count, one in five people experiencing homelessness said they had a chronic substance use disorder. The proportion of chronically homeless people with substance use disorders is estimated to be much higher, and the condition frequently co-occurs with mental illness.
As troubling as these numbers are, they do not show the complete picture. Rarely noted, for instance, is the obvious fact that the vast majority of the 20 million people in this country with substance use problems are not homeless. That suggests that people with substance use disorders might be homeless for reasons other than substance use. Poverty, lack of access to treatment, justice involvement, strained family supports – these factors can also contribute to housing instability, compounding the effects of a substance use disorder. Therefore, in addition to treatment, some people will need help addressing these factors if they are to recover and become stably housed.
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For Homeless People Accessing ACA Benefits, Advocacy is Key
March 27, 2014
True or false: March 31 is the last day to help people experiencing homelessness sign up for health coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA)? The answer is – probably FALSE. That’s because many vulnerable people experiencing homelessness may qualify for Medicaid. Enrollment in Medicaid is ongoing, and not affected by the annual “open season” that ends next week for some other ACA programs.
People with low and no incomes can still use state exchanges to find out if they qualify for Medicaid, and begin enrolling if they do. In states that chose to expand Medicaid, adults with incomes up to 138 percent of the poverty level can receive basic benefits at least. In all states, people with more severe conditions may qualify for enhanced coverage defined in each state.
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Homelessness and Tuberculosis: What Can We Do?
February 24, 2014
With flu season over, or almost over, Americans may be breathing a healthy sigh of relief, even as public health officials turn to preventing next year’s outbreaks. People living and working in homeless shelters still have to contend with an airborne bacterium that never goes out of season – tuberculosis, or TB as it is more frequently known. TB is a curable condition that can be fatal if left untreated, and a controllable disease that can spread widely unless precautions are taken.
People experiencing homeless populations have extraordinarily high rates of TB, as much as 10 times the rate in the general community. Public health experts cite a number of reasons for this disparity, including overall poor health status; poor nutrition; lack of access to health care services; and staying at close quarters in emergency shelters and other congregate settings. Even so, communities concerned about homelessness can take steps to ease TB’s impact on vulnerable people and promote interventions that make the spread of TB less likely.
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