Healthcare and Homelessness

Click here to listen to the debate and vote on the Healthcare and Homelessness report.

Full Report
Executive Summary
Press Release:

Draft City Club Report Recommends Advocating Homelessness
as a Public Health Issue

The health condition of homeless persons is a direct and continuing result of living without adequate housing.

(Portland, Ore.) City Club of Portland today released a draft research report that lays out a set of recommendationsto strengthen the implementation of health care reform, for people who are homeless, through streamlined efforts between coordinated care organizations, service providers, and local governments.

Over the course of 8 months, a committee of 15 City Club member-volunteers interviewed public officials, homeless advocates, health care administrators, persons experiencing homelessness, county employees, coordinated care workers and academic researchers. The full draft report, which includes a witness list and complete bibliography, is available online at http://www.pdxcityclub.org/healthcarehomelessness.

In January 2014, the Affordable Care Act expanded Medicaid eligibility to those with incomes at 138 percent of the federal poverty level, including nearly all homeless adults without dependents and those not currently eligible for Medicare. As a result, more than a quarter of all residents in Multnomah County—including nearly all individuals experiencing homelessness—are now eligible for Oregon Health Plan coverage.

The report contains an analysis of the impact of the newly instituted Medicaid reform on homeless persons in Multnomah County—its successes, setbacks and challenges, and the potential for positive change.

“The expansion of Medicaid has made health coverage a reality for many people experiencing homelessness, but the full potential is undermined by lack of housing” said Crista Gardner, chair of the research committee. “It’s difficult to become healthy when you are living on the streets.”

The lack of wound care available for people experiencing homelessness can turn an ordinary infection into life-threatening infection. And furthermore, even when individuals receive medical care, they lack the appropriate facilities in which to recover. These issues are compounded further by the conditions of living on the streets—no place to shower, clean their clothes or sanitary place to care for their wounds.

On Tuesday, January 6, City Club’s networking event, Civic Drinks, will bring together agencies, policy makers, and direct service organizations working on issues related to health care and homelessness (5:00-7:00pm at TILT, 1355 NW Everett., Portland). City Club members will debate and vote on the report and recommendations after the Forum on Health Care and Homelessness, on Friday, January 9 at the Sentinel Hotel (614 SW 11th Ave., Portland). The event will be open to the public, but only City Club members may vote on the recommendations. To purchase tickets for this event, visit: http://bit.ly/1x6LxFk. Online voting will be open until Friday, January 16 at 5:00pm. Outcomes of the vote will be published on the City Club of Portland's website and reported in the City Club Bulletin, released January 19.

City Club of Portland brings together civic-minded people to make Portland and Oregon better places to live, work and play for everyone. For more information about City Club of Portland, visit www.pdxcityclub.org or call 503-228-7231. Follow us on twitter @pdxcityclub and on facebook. 

Committee Members

Member-volunteers who served on the committee were Crista Gardner (chair), Leo Rhodes (vice chair), Jeannemarie Halleck (lead writer), Jon Coon, Meg Eberle, Ukiah Hawkins, Nels Johnson, Heather Kelez, Sally LaJoie, Molly Lehrkind, Geoff McCarthy, Nicholas McCarty, Sarah McEwing, Ben Petersen, and Doug Richardson. Carl von Rohr and Kimberlin Butler served as the committee’s research advisers. Cameron Whitten served as the committee’s advocacy adviser.