Today during National Health Center Week, the health care needs of homeless individuals are being recognized. In 2008, Michigan Community Health Centers served approximately 18,610 homeless patients at traditional Health Center sites, shelter-based sites, and mobile units. In addition, Community Health Centers take health care services to locations where homeless individuals are found, such as streets, parks, and soup kitchens.
Modeled after a demonstration project jointly funded by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Pew Charitable Trust, the Health Care for the Homeless program was initiated in 1987 as part of the Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act. In 1996, Congress passed the Health Centers Consolidation Act, which joined the Health Care for the Homeless program with the community, migrant, and public housing primary health care programs under a single authority called the Consolidated Health Center Program.
The Health Care for the Homeless program provides federal grants to non-profit organizations, including Community Health Centers, to deliver primary health care, substance abuse and mental health services, patient management, and education to homeless individuals and families. Health Care for the Homeless programs also assist individuals in accessing housing, Medicaid, and other needed services and benefits.
The State of Homelessness in Michigan 2008 Annual Summary reports there are 86,189 homeless people in Michigan. That’s an increase of over 10% in the number of homeless people in the state since 1997. In 2008, 42% of homeless persons in Michigan reported being homeless for the first time.
Click here to read about the comprehensive services that Health Care for the Homeless organizations provide homeless individuals.
To learn more about National Health Center Week go to www.healthcenterweek.org.