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Healthcare and Community Development: Creating Solutions Together to Solve Homelessness in California

Written by Build Healthy Places Staff on May 10, 2024

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Build Healthy Places Network’s Video Snapshots offer quick deep dives with experts from the community development, health, and finance sectors. Our current series focuses on multisector partnerships involving community development, healthcare, and health payors in California that are co-investing in projects that support people experiencing homelessness. 

Following a nationwide trend, the number of individuals experiencing homelessness in California is increasing. The state is home to 30% of the nation’s homeless population, and half the nation’s unsheltered population. At the same time, many healthcare systems are also realizing that supporting people experiencing homelessness is inherently a healthcare issue. Likewise, health payors are starting to finance permanent supportive housing to help their patients and improve their bottom lines. The growth of awareness and engagement around anchor missions suggests that the health sector is now more than ever interested in supporting the communities they serve, especially for people experiencing homelessness. 

This Video Snapshot series will feature two interviews with healthcare organizations and their partners who are pioneering innovative solutions to addressing homelessness in California.

In the first interview, Build Healthy Places Network’s Co-Executive Director Colleen Flynn, speaks with partners involved in a multisector collaborative that is part of the Saint Rest Food to Share Hub project in Fresno, CA. The Hub will receive, sort, store, and redistribute millions of pounds of healthy food rescued by Food to Share and include a community commercial kitchen. In addition, they have plans to create a dynamic hub of activity with housing, a health clinic, a community-owned co-op grocery store, a community center, behavioral health services, workforce training, child care, green spaces, a community plaza, gardens, banking services, adult and youth education, and an arts and culture center.

The partners shared why the hub required a multi-sector approach, lessons learned from the project, and about the grand opening in May 2024. 

Interview Participants: 

  • Ivonne Der Torosian, Vice President, Community Health & Well-Being, St Agnes Medical Center, part of Trinity Health
  • Courtney Shapiro, Director Of Community Relations at CalViva Health
  • Artie Padilla, DRIVE Initiative Director at Central Valley Community Foundation
  • Keith Bergthold, CEO of Regenerate California Innovation Inc. and former ED of Fresno Metro Ministry

In the second interview, Ashley Hernandez, Research and Product Manager at Build Healthy Places Network, speaks with partners about their involvement in the creation of East Beamer Neighborhood Campus. The Campus, located in Woodland California, is a multi-sector effort to co-locate a shelter and permanent supportive housing with critical services all on a single campus. Giarrusso-Khlok and Thurmond discuss why this approach necessitated a collaborative approach, the primary motivators for CommonSpirit Health to engage in the project, and how the campus includes trauma-informed design while fostering a sense of belonging for its residents.

Interview Participants: