California Health and Human Services

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CalHHS Statement

Statement from CalHHS Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly on Federal Announcement of California’s Participation in the Housing and Services Partnership Accelerator

“Our Healthy California for All agenda requires us to continue building momentum around addressing social drivers of health. As a key social driver of health, addressing the housing needs of Californians who have serious and chronic health conditions is as important as addressing their access to healthy food and life-saving medications. Housing is a key health service. To that end, we are thrilled to welcome the opportunity to be part of this important initiative that looks to bridge system silos to address the needs of our neighbors who have complex health needs and are experiencing or are at-risk of homelessness. This is another step in our collective pursuit to do more and do better by Californians, often who live in the shadows, and whose families and communities expect all of us to link arms and support them to thrive.

California is using all levers of government to meet the needs of people experiencing homelessness by providing housing solutions where health and social services are integrated. The Housing and Services Partnership Accelerator creates the space to work toward these goals alongside our local and federal partners to find and advance innovative solutions. We look to build on the bold steps we are taking to address the unmet needs for physical and behavioral health services, to create a range of housing options that are safe and stable, and to meet people where they are at.”

WHAT IS THE CONTEXT: CalHHS partnered with the UCSF Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative to release the largest representative study of homelessness in the United States since the mid-1990s, providing a comprehensive look at the causes and consequences of homelessness in California. The study found that the state’s homeless population on is aging, with 47% of all adults aged 50 or older, and that Black and Native Americans are dramatically overrepresented. Participants had experienced multiple forms of trauma throughout their life, increasing their vulnerability to homelessness and contributing to their mental health and substance use challenges. Two-thirds reported current mental health symptoms and more than a third experienced physical or sexual violence during this episode of homelessness. More than a third had visited an Emergency Department in the prior six months. One in five who used substances reported that they wanted substance use treatment—but couldn’t get it.

WHAT DOES THIS CONNECT TO: CalHHS, along with its departments and offices, has embarked on initiatives that look to transform systems, but when connected together, they look to ensure that government services are person-centered, equity-focused, and data driven.

BIGGER PICTURE: CalHHS has developed a comprehensive set of guiding principles and strategic priorities that look to bridge programs and systems to more intentionally serve Californians. This includes our vision for a Healthy California for All. A California where every individual belongs to a strong and thriving community. Where all our children can play and learn, and where we are confident that we have done all we can to pass to them a state they can lead into the future. Where older and disabled Californians can live with purpose and dignity, and where they are supported and valued. Where equity is not just a word or concept but the core value. Where we constantly pursue social and racial justice by not only lifting all boats but especially those boats that need to be lifted more. Where health care is affordable, accessible, equitable and high-quality so it drives toward improved health. Where we prioritize prevention and the upstream factors that impact an individual’s health and well-being. Where we are committed to tackling the economic inequalities that force many Californians to live on the street. Where necessities like housing and childcare are complimented by access to physical and behavioral health services. Where we see the whole person and where programs and services address the social, cultural and linguistic needs of the individuals they serve. Where climate threats collide with forward leaning health practices and policies that visibly turn the tide toward community resilience. And where we see our diversity as a strength, and where we embrace a joint responsibility to take care of one another.