Hospitals and health systems are recognizing the significance of addressing determinants of health as part of their population health strategies.  Homelessness and unstable housing are such determinants. Addressing housing and other nonmedical needs can have a profound, positive impact on health, including longer life expectancy.

Homeless or unstably housed individuals are more likely to be hospitalized frequently, have longer lengths of stay, be readmitted within 30 days and use more high-cost services than would patients in stable housing situations. A new guide from the Health Research & Educational Trust, part of the American Hospital Association, explores the impact of housing on health and offers some recommendations for how hospitals can step in to help.

For example, some hospitals are forming partnerships to support neighborhood revitalization; offering home safety assessments; providing medical care for the homeless, and building transitional or permanent supportive housing units for patients in need, among other initiatives

The guide offers recommendations and case studies for hospitals interested in learning how to address housing instability.

On Sept. 21, from 12 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. ET, the AHA will present a webinar based on information in the guide. The webinar will spotlight strategies Children’s Mercy Kansas City and University of Illinois Hospital and Health Sciences System developed to recognize housing barriers as a priority health issue in their communities. The hospitals will share their journeys of implementing programs to assist those in need of stable and secure living conditions.

For more information on this issue, see our Housing page with links to H&HN coverage and other AHA resources.