Blogging Bayport Alameda

April 5, 2019

An ER is not a home

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:05 am

And if you have been following anyone on social media who is a yes on Measure A, you’ll probably have seen reference to this Vox piece, but here it is again because it’s important and goes directly to what the Wellness and Respite Center means to do: house people and get them out of emergency rooms.

From Vox:

  • A 2017 RAND Corporation analysis of the Housing for Health program in LA County concluded that the county saved about 20 percent by putting people with complex mental health issues in supportive housing rather than relying on law enforcement and emergency room visits.
  • A 2015 randomized control trial of a housing-first approach across several Canadian cities saw essentially no change in money spent (Canada’s structurally lower health care costs are likely a factor here) but gains in quality of life and community functioning.
  • A separate randomized trial study in Toronto found that housing first was effective in combatting alcohol abuse disorders.

Earlier studies from Charlotte and Southeastern Colorado also show large cost savings from focusing on simply housing the homeless.

 

One of the key components of “housing first” is to take people as they are.  This also goes back to the whole stigmatization of poor people.  We expect poor people, who are already down on their luck and struggling, to “fix” all the problems that they have in order to secure housing.  But a wealthy alcoholic is never in danger of losing his/her housing simply because s/he is an alcoholic because with money there is a level of security that is not extended to people already facing difficulties and hardship.  “Housing first” says that if we take care of the physiological needs of the homeless individual via shelter, then that person will have the ability to concentrate on getting emotionally healthy.

But the Wellness Center isn’t even going so far as that, what it’s asking is that Alameda open its doors to house homeless seniors who are aging at a much rapid pace that you or I would in our secure homes.  That we provide a place for them to age and die with dignity rather than on the streets, in a car, or in an ER bed.

The Respite Center asks that Alameda provide people who are recuperating from a hospital discharge to have a safe place to fully heal from wounds, surgery, or get stable after a chemotherapy treatment.

I don’t know what it says about us as a community if we can’t manage that much.

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