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We have learned a lot about homelessness, housing, and healthcare in 2020. The coronavirus underlines the simple truth that housing is health care.

Healthy homes promote good physical and mental health. Good health depends on having homes that are safe and free from physical hazards. In contrast, poor quality and inadequate housing contributes to health problems such as chronic diseases and injuries and can have harmful effects on childhood development.

People experiencing homelessness face greater health risks in general, with a mortality rate four to nine times higher than those in stable housing, thanks to chronic illness as well as violence. COVID-19 has only heightened what we already knew. Housing is critical to healthcare.

The REALTOR® Foundation is proud to support extraordinary organizations addressing the healthcare needs of the most vulnerable among us. One being Gennesaret Free Clinic and their Health Recovery Homes.

Gennesaret Free Clinic’s Health Recovery Homes (HRHs) are available for homeless men and women to live in after being discharged from the hospital. The Gennesaret Health Recovery Homes allow homeless men and women a safe, secure place to recover from an injury, illness, or surgery when discharged from an Indianapolis hospital. These people would otherwise have to try to recover on the streets. Gennesaret also helps to enroll residents for benefits such as food stamps, health insurance (HIP 2.0), provides them with access to employment as well as to disability services, and provides follow up services after they have been discharged into housing.

One of the goals of the Health Recovery Homes is to discharge residents into permanent housing. This was the case with Steve. He was a patient at the VA hospital battling congestive heart failure and diabetes. Prior to hospitalization he was living out of his vehicle. During his stay at the HRH Steve obtained a housing voucher.  This voucher allowed Steve to obtain affordable, decent housing in the private market.  The case manager assisted Steve with finding appropriate housing within his price range. He was also able to obtain new furniture for his apartment. The three months Steve resided at the HRH allowed for him to get his diabetes under control and have a safe place to recover. Steve is still in his apartment and doing very well.

As concerns for COVID-19 upended normal life and operations of many organizations, the staff at Gennesaret Free Clinic pivoted programing to embrace telehealth services. Now low-income individuals have access healthcare over the phone or online in both Spanish and English at no cost. 

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