As Washington State plans a new system to transform care, one of the items that keeps surfacing is the role that supportive housing can play in helping reduce health care costs and especially emergency room use. The state has started to recognize this in some of the projects under discussion in its new Healthier Washington initiative. Some hospitals and health systems have also expressed interest in supportive housing programs that provide stable places to live with on-site integrated health services.
Studies indicate a relationship between housing and health care costs. A recent article in Health Affairs documented savings from supportive housing for the homeless in Portland, Ore. According to the analysis of the Portland pilot, people living in a supportive housing facility showed significantly lower overall health care expenditures after moving in. WSHA staff are beginning to explore opportunities to enhance supportive housing in our state. We are interested in knowing more about any projects in your community. (Claudia Sanders and Ian Corbridge)