This story was originally published in Affordable Housing Finance.

Kaiser Permanente is partnering with Community Solutions to help accelerate efforts to end chronic homelessness in 15 communities within the health-care system’s national footprint.

Bernard J. Tyson
Bernard J. Tyson

The company announced it will provide $3 million over a three-year period to Community Solutions’ Built for Zero initiative, which uses real-time data to help local leaders better understand the dynamics of homelessness in their communities. Built for Zero enables communities to adopt problem-solving tools and technologies to end homelessness and the conditions that create it.

“Kaiser Permanente is investing in efforts to reduce homelessness and housing insecurity because there is a proven link between housing and health,” said Bernard J. Tyson, chairman and CEO of Kaiser Permanente. “Addressing affordable housing and homelessness is crucial to Kaiser Permanente’s mission to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve and to advance the economic, social, and environmental conditions for health.”

The move is the latest by Kaiser Permanente, which has increasingly become active in ending homelessness and providing affordable housing as part of its work to create healthy communities.

In January, Kaiser Permanente announced a commitment to house 500 individuals experiencing homelessness in Oakland, Calif., who are 50 and older and live with a chronic condition. Last year it created the Thriving Communities Fund, a $200 million impact investment fund focused on addressing affordable housing and other factors that contribute to the homelessness and housing crisis.

Mortality rates among people experiencing chronic homelessness are three to four times that of the general population. Without a safe, stable place to live, it is nearly impossible to maintain one’s health or sustain health improvements achieved in a medical setting, said company officials.

“Living without a home can have a dramatic impact on a person’s health, yet many of the communities we serve are grappling with extreme rates of housing insecurity and homelessness.” said Dr. Bechara Choucair, Kaiser Permanente’s chief community health officer. “We know there is no simple solution to such a complex problem, but through strategic partnerships, such as the one with Community Solutions, we believe it can be solved.”

Built for Zero is Community Solutions’ national effort to end chronic and veteran homelessness. It is currently operating in more than 70 communities across the country. Since January 2015, more than 65,000 veterans and 38,500 chronically homeless Americans have been housed by participating communities. To date, three Built for Zero communities have ended chronic homelessness and another nine have ended veteran homelessness.

“We are thrilled to work with Kaiser Permanente to accelerate Built for Zero in these communities,” said Rosanne Haggerty, president of Community Solutions. “Together, we will use data and analytics to help these communities adopt the tools they need to end homelessness and address the conditions that create it.”

The 15 Kaiser Permanente communities participating in Built for Zero are:

· Sacramento and Sacramento County, Calif.· Marin County, Calif.
· Richmond and Contra Costa County, Calif.
· Fresno and Madera counties, Calif.
· Santa Cruz, Watsonville, and Santa Cruz County, Calif.
· Bakersfield and Kern County, Calif.
· Riverside County, Calif.
· Washington, D.C.
· Baltimore
· Montgomery County, Md.
· Arlington County, Va.
· Fairfax County, Va.
· Denver
· Atlanta
· Honolulu

This story was originally published in Affordable Housing Finance.