Wallace Medical Concern (WMC) and Human Solutions Inc. (HSI) are working hard to find ways to collaborate and bridge health services to residents living at HSI properties in Rockwood. Most people in Portland recognize the city is experiencing a housing shortage. Housing is a known social determinant of health, and yet it is estimated 4,400 Portlanders sleep outside or in shelters each night. For families and individuals trying to access a shelter, this process can take anywhere from two to eight months. In order to get into affordable permanent housing, individuals can expect to wait another one to three years. This time frame is simply too long, and often traps community members in a vicious cycle focused primarily on survival, instead of thriving.

In 2014 The Center for Outcomes Research and Education, in partnership with Enterprise Community Partners, conducted a study focused on the intersection between housing and health here in the Portland metro area. The study looked at Medicaid claims of over 1,600 residents and 275 surveys of people living in housing for at least one year. Four key findings from the study were:

  1. Costs to health care systems were lower after people moved into housing.
  2. Primary care visits went up after move-in, Emergency Department visits went down.
  3. Residents reported that access to care and quality of care improved after moving into housing.
  4. On-site health services were a key driver of outcomes, event though awareness was low.”

I work onsite as the Resident Services Specialist at the Rockwood Building and Rosewood Plaza, conveniently located onsite with the WMC Clinic and new Dental Clinic. Most Resident Services employees focus on eviction prevention efforts with residents. Through a partnership between WMC and HSI, I get to collaborate directly with a WMC Community Health Worker to guide residents towards health resources in the community. Working with WMC to provide this resource to residents is an excellent asset for individuals who might not otherwise know how to access the care they need.