PORTLAND, Ore. -- Kaiser Permanente Northwest is awarding grants to seven nonprofit agencies across the region, from Cowlitz to Lane counties, to support unique programs that engage community health workers and peer counselors in helping people with mental illness and addiction disorders find and sustain housing.
The $2.27 million in grants follows a $4 million contribution announced in September in support of the "Housing Is Health" initiative that will build 380 units of housing in Portland with Central City Concern, including 175 units of medically supported housing. Kaiser Permanente has also partnered with several other local health care providers to create the new Unity Center for Behavioral Health, which opens this month.
"As we looked at the challenges facing people with mental illness in our community, we heard repeatedly that lack of stable housing is the most critical need," said Andrew McCulloch, president, Northwest, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Hospitals. "But not only do they need housing, they need help getting into and maintaining housing in the first place. Without both types of support, it is virtually impossible for people with mental health and addiction issues to attain successful treatment."
Seven nonprofit agencies will receive $325,000 over three years to deploy strategies with a personal touch. Each agency has also been asked to identify policy and advocacy efforts for changes that will help bring an end to homelessness for people with mental illness and addiction disorders.
Community health workers and peer support/wellness specialists are able to build meaningful relationships to help people reach their recovery and health goals. Through coaching, mentoring, teaching, listening and caring, they can be role models who encourage self-esteem and self-confidence while sharing specific knowledge and promoting skills.
The grants were announced at a press conference held at the Transition Projects Clark Center during a Martin Luther King, Jr. Day service project by Kaiser Permanente volunteers. The Clark Center provides shelter and housing short-term housing and support services to homeless men.
"On this day of service, it is an honor to connect people who have a passion for helping our community’s most vulnerable members with the resources, training and strategies they need to be effective," said McCulloch.
SOURCE: Kaiser Permanente