Health Care for the Homeless

Program Background

The Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act of 1987 initially authorized the Health Care for the Homeless (HCH) Program.  In 1996, Congress combined the HCH Program with Community Health Centers, Migrant Health Centers, and Primary Care in Public Housing under the Consolidated Health Center Program. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) provided additional resources to expand services and deliver sites.

Although nearly all health centers provide care to vulnerable people in their communities – some of whom may be homeless – some health centers receive only or additional funding under Section 330(h) of the Public Health Service Act to specifically serve individuals experiencing homelessness. In 2017, 299 health centers received federal grant support under the Health Care for the Homeless (HCH) Program and collectively they serve nearly one million homeless patients. Health centers nationwide served a combined 1.4 million homeless patients in 2017 regardless of whether or not they received special funding.

Resources for Health Centers Serving Homeless Populations

NACHC supports HCH health centers at both the program and policy levels. Specifically, NACHC has a Health Care for the Homeless Committee, which is composed of 30-35 NACHC members who represent health centers that serve homeless people or individuals at risk for homelessness. The Committee advises NACHC’s Board of Directors and staff on issues related to providing care to this population. The Committee serves as a forum to strengthen collaboration among NACHC membership and other organizations that serve people experiencing homelessness.

Additional support is provided by other National Cooperative Agreement partners:

National Health Care for the Homeless Council (NHCHC)

NHCHC works to eliminate homelessness by providing comprehensive T/TA to health centers and look-alikes using over 25 years of experience working with communities to improve delivery of health care for people experiencing homelessness.

CSH – Corporation for Supportive Housing

Supportive housing experts.  Supportive services for homeless patients who are frequent users of ERs and connects homeless people to sustainable housing with wrap-around services. Key providers of technical assistance where housing and health intersect.

For more information, contact Ted Henson, Director, Health Center Growth and Innovation, at 301-347-0474.