Community

Support a safe, healthy community

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Imagine a society that connects housing to health, and a health care system that helps the most vulnerable among us to live in safe, affordable homes. Also imagine health care professionals who assess for risk and prescribe a “housing vaccine” to prevent disease and promote health. As noted in the January 2018 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), steps toward realizing this vision have begun.

In Bellingham we have an opportunity to solidify progress toward this new community health care by supporting the renewal of the Bellingham Home Fund.

Bellingham safety-net health care providers Unity Care NW and Sea Mar Community Health Center wholeheartedly support the renewal of the Home Fund. Also supporting the passage of the Home Fund renewal are the Medicaid insurance companies, Community Health Plan of Washington (CHPW), United Healthcare, and Amerigroup.

Why do health care providers and insurance companies support local efforts to increase access to affordable housing?

Because safe, stable housing promotes good health. And because it’s the right thing to do.

A strong majority of voters (57 percent) approved the Bellingham Home Fund in 2012. The proposed 2018 Home Fund (Proposition 5 on the city ballot) will renew the 2012 levy, producing $4 million a year. These dedicated funds are expected to leverage another $30 million in state funds and federal tax credits that will pay for building housing and maintaining support for very low-income seniors, families and people who have experienced homelessness and have disabling chronic health conditions.

Since the Bellingham Home Fund was passed, it has built, preserved and repaired more than 700 homes, focusing on helping those who need it most. One such individual is “John,” a 68-year-old man who was chronically homeless. John frequented the Lighthouse Drop-In Center by day and camped away from the shelter at night. In addition to being treated by a Sea Mar physician for a number of chronic diseases, John was diagnosed as needing a joint replacement. The surgeon, however, was hesitant to proceed with the procedure because John lacked a stable place where he could recover. John was in pain and the physicians were frustrated that they couldn’t provide the care they knew he needed. This is an all too common occurrence for health care providers who want to help, but don’t have all the answers beyond those that are available in their clinics. Frankly, there are holes in the safety net as big as a house.

The happy ending to John’s story is that he was lucky enough to be chosen to live in an apartment building that was recently built with Home Fund support. John had his surgery and is living relatively pain-free in a downtown apartment building that allows independence and encourages community. Life isn’t perfect for John, but he hasn’t been to the emergency department, nor hospitalized, since securing a place to live.

Health care providers and the state Medicaid program understand that it can be less expensive to help house chronically ill people experiencing homelessness than it is to only pay for treatment that may be rendered less effective by a person’s lack of stable housing.

Join with our communities’ safety net health care providers to ensure that John, and others like him, have a better chance at living a healthy life in safe, affordable housing. Vote Yes on Prop 5 to renew the Bellingham Home Fund! 

Desmond Skubi is executive director of Unity Care NW. Ione Adams, M.D., is medical director of Sea Mar Community Health Center.

New Money Silver Reef
Past Columns
Cherry Point Amendments

January 16, 2019

Invest in the Future

September 26, 2018

A Desperate Call

August 29, 2018

Criminalizing Protest

July 18, 2018

Threshold Fund

June 13, 2018

Imprisoned Splendour

May 9, 2018

Pathways to Homeownership

April 25, 2018

Yes on I-1631

April 11, 2018

Divide-and-Conquer

October 11, 2017

Schools and Planning for Growth

September 27, 2017

Electronic Home Monitoring

September 13, 2017

Events
Today
Bellinghamster One-Act Theater Festival (BOAT)

7:00pm|Bellingham Theatre Guild

Cascadia Weekly's Fiction 101 Contest

10:00am

A Forest of Words Poetry Competition

10:00am|Whatcom County

Call to Artists for Spring Juried Exhibit

10:00am|Jansen Art Center

Literacy Council Seeks Volunteers

10:00am

Wild Things

9:30am|Lake Padden Park

Deep Forest Experience

11:00am|Rockport State Park

Books and Bites

1:00pm|Blaine Library

Peace Vigil

4:00pm|Downtown Bellingham

Art Auction Gala

5:30pm|Lightcatcher Building

Photography Exhibit Opening

6:00pm|Fourth Corner Frames and Gallery

Family Story Night

6:00pm|Fairhaven Library

Quieting the Monkey Mind

7:00pm|Village Books

Urinetown

7:00pm|BAAY Theatre

Space Trek

7:30pm|Upfront Theatre

Sanford-Hill Piano Series

7:30pm|Performing Arts Center Concert Hall

VoicePlay

7:30pm|Mount Baker Theatre

Courthouse Vaudeville

7:30pm|Territorial Whatcom County Courthouse

Village Books
Tomorrow
Bellinghamster One-Act Theater Festival (BOAT)

7:00pm|Bellingham Theatre Guild

A Forest of Words Poetry Competition

10:00am|Whatcom County

Cascadia Weekly's Fiction 101 Contest

10:00am

Call to Artists for Spring Juried Exhibit

10:00am|Jansen Art Center

Literacy Council Seeks Volunteers

10:00am

Deep Forest Experience

11:00am|Rockport State Park

Urinetown

7:00pm|BAAY Theatre

Space Trek

7:30pm|Upfront Theatre

Pancake Breakfast

8:00am|Ferndale Senior Center

Martin Luther King, Jr. Conference

9:00am|Whatcom Community College

Larrabee Old Growth Exploration

9:00am|Fairhaven Parkway Park & Ride

Winter Fitness Hike

10:00am|Whistle Lake

Winter Farmers Market

10:00am|Depot Market Square

Plant Classes

10:00am|Garden Spot Nursery

Skagit Eagle Festival

10:00am|Rockport, Concrete, Marblemount

Skagit Eagle Festival

10:00am|Skagit County

The Basics of Sprouting

10:00am|Blaine Library

Deep Forest Experience

11:00am|Rockport State Park

Washington Remembers

12:00pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

When voices are silenced

12:00pm

MONA Openings

1:00pm|Museum of Northwest Art

Travel to the Philippines

1:30pm|Blaine Library

Rioja Tasting

2:00pm|Siefert & Jones Wine Merchants

Bellingham Roller Betties' Double Header

5:30pm|Lynden Skateway

An Evening with the Artist

6:00pm|Gallery Pegasus

Be IN the Show

6:00pm|Mount Baker Theatre

Unity Ball

7:00pm|The Majestic

Blue Abode Comedy Show

7:00pm|Blue Adobe Bar

Time Travel Sound Sessions

7:00pm|Anacortes Museum

The Shame of Losing

7:00pm|Village Books

Eagle Talk

7:30pm|Lummi Island Library

Hot House at the Courthouse

7:30pm|Territorial Whatcom County Courthouse

Fire and Grace

7:30pm|First Congregational Church

Trove Web Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1
Sunday
Cascadia Weekly's Fiction 101 Contest

10:00am

Call to Artists for Spring Juried Exhibit

10:00am|Jansen Art Center

Deep Forest Experience

11:00am|Rockport State Park

Urinetown

7:00pm|BAAY Theatre

Skagit Eagle Festival

10:00am|Skagit County

Deep Forest Experience

11:00am|Rockport State Park

Sedro-Woolley Community Breakfast

8:00am|American Legion Post #43

Rabbit Ride

8:30am|Fairhaven Bicycle

Nookachamps Winter Runs

9:00am|Skagit Valley College

Skagit Eagle Festival

10:00am|Rockport, Concrete, Marblemount

Langar in Lynden

11:00am| Guru Nanak Gursikh Gurdwara

Deep Forest Experience

11:00am|Rockport State Park

Sips of the Season

1:00pm|Galloway's Cocktail Bar

Bill Evans

2:00pm|Nancy's Farm

Resolutions with the Bellingham Chamber Music Society

3:00pm|First Congregational Church of Bellingham

Poetry with Douglas Cole

4:00pm|Village Books

Seven Comedians

7:00pm|Upfront Theatre

see our complete calendar »

Village Books Choir of Man Los Vivancos Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1 Trove Web