02/05/2014

Promising Opportunities for Health and Housing Partnerships under the Affordable Care Act – Guest Blog by Sunia Zaterman

By Sunia Zaterman, Executive Director of the Council of Large Public Housing Authorities

CLPHA - Sunia ZatermanIn Portland, Oregon, Home Forward is engaging with local health partners to improve outcomes for their residents. Among their efforts are collaboration with Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) on providing permanent supportive housing, with the FQHCs assessing potential residents’ vulnerability and providing ongoing primary care; working with a Coordinated Care Organization and Medicaid provider to develop a wound/skin care clinic at an apartment home for formerly homeless residents; and pursuing future partnerships related to health care coaching, medication monitoring, and supporting aging-in-place. Home Forward presented on these and other initiatives during a recent webinar hosted by the Council of Large Public Housing Authorities (CLPHA) and CSH for CLPHA members, who share Home Forward’s commitment to improving the lives of their constituents.

Housing authorities across the country are engaged in cooperative endeavors with health care partners. In light of the tremendous activity and shifting landscape in the health care system as the ACA is implemented, CLPHA wanted to help our members identify new possibilities to expand upon their collaborations, and working with CSH has enabled us to do so. CLPHA and CSH have jointly produced Opportunities for Health Partnerships through the Affordable Care Act, a paper that we hope will provide the basic information needed to energize the housing industry to identify potential health partners, educate those health entities on the importance of housing, and explore creative ways to use limited resources.

This paper is the result of both our partnership with CSH, strengthened by an MOU signed last year, and CLPHA’s systems alignment initiative that focuses on the critical need to better align health, education, and green initiatives to improve the life outcomes for assisted households and support innovations at the local level. CLPHA is committed to working with practitioners, researchers, and policymakers to reshape the way that housing programs intersect with other sectors at the federal, state, and local level.

The U.S. health system is increasingly recognizing that, especially for people with chronic primary and behavioral health diagnoses, housing is essential to achieving good health outcomes and controlling health care costs. Housing providers can capitalize on that fact, for the benefit of their residents and their communities. As highlighted during our webinar, housing authorities’ efforts can start small, beginning with one or several properties rather than encompassing a full portfolio. Additionally, while housing authorities will have to “learn a new language” as they look to establish cross-sector partnerships, such engagement does not require health care expertise. CSH’s Health Terms and Practices Resource Glossary is a useful reference for acquiring and expanding relevant vocabulary.

We encourage CLPHA members and other providers in their health-related efforts, and we hope that this paper  will assist them in identifying opportunities and fruitful starting points for establishing partnerships that will lead to improved health outcomes for residents.

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