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Housing is Healthcare Summit held in Helena

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Posted at 5:17 PM, Oct 11, 2023

HELENA — The second annual Housing is Healthcare Summit is happening at Carroll College. The summit aims to educate on the intersection of housing and healthcare.

“A. Helena has a housing crisis, right? Which is why we’re seeing more homelessness. And B. homelessness and health are directly intertwined,” says Supervisor of Community Based Services at St. Peter’s Health, Kayla Morris.

Multiple organizations such as Good Samaritan Ministries, Pure View Health, United Way, Helena Housing Authority, and more are gathering at Carroll College October 10-13 in order to discuss the intersection of housing and healthcare and how the two are interdependent upon each other.

Various topics such as trauma-informed care, identifying hoarding, best practices for supportive housing, and more are being discussed.

“Oftentimes, homelessness and housing is a large social determinant of health. And so, people with poor health are more at risk for homelessness and people who are homeless are more at risk for poor health. And so, how can healthcare systems get involved and engaged in the homeless world and housing world to really have better outcomes for our population?” says Morris.

The summit works to utilize a nationwide model of FUSE (Frequent Users Systems Engagement), in order to identify those who are utilizing services and target supportive housing strategies on them.

"Their situation gets better, they have better outcomes, and they stop being frequent utilizers,” says Morris.

Morris says that the entire community’s support is needed in order to properly tackle this issue.

“And we’ve seen excellent outcomes for our participants both on the housing side and the justice utilization decreases and healthcare utilization decreases. But it takes more than just our leadership team. It takes the government. It takes the community. It takes everyone in order to solve this problem,” says Morris.

Katie Bonamasso, Senior Program Manager with CHS, says that not only does ensuring housing for folks help them live healthier and more fulfilled lives, but it ultimately is better for the taxpayers' pocketbook.

“So, if you can, you know, get people out of this vicious cycle between, you know, sleeping on the streets, showing up in our detox facilities, spending days in jail, using our emergency departments, that actually all comes at huge public cost. And so, if we can put them in housing and get them appropriate services, we can actually reduce expenditures in emergency services,” says Bonamasso.