Here’s a Foundation that Looks at the Health Issues of the Homeless

Nearly one-third of homeless people in Los Angeles have a mental illness; one-quarter have a substance abuse problem, and one-fifth have a physical disability. This is according to the Health Net Foundation, which is taking a health approach to homeless funding in Los Angeles.

“It’s important that groups and organizations come together to address the medical and social issues surrounding homelessness, and we hope to support an approach that looks at them from several angles, including housing and access to health care,” said Patricia Clarey, president of Health Net Foundation.

The foundation recently announced two new grants of $100,000 each to establish pilot programs for inpatient and outpatient care and temporary housing for the homeless in Los Angeles County. One of these grants went to JWCH Institute, which provides medical, specialty, behavioral, and HIV/AIDS healthcare services to about 30,000 homeless patients in Los Angeles County each year. Now, this group can provide temporary housing for their homeless patients while they’re getting care.

The other new $100,000 grant went to OPCC, a nonprofit that provides homeless people in Santa Monica and the Westside housing and care for medical, mental health, and substance abuse treatment. OPCC will use the foundation’s money to put a staff member in the Providence Saint John’s Medical Center emergency department to move homeless patients into housing and connect them to services at Venice Family Clinic or with local physicians.

So what is the Health Net Foundation, and how does it fit into the Los Angeles philanthropy scene?

Well, this is a health insurance funder that administers benefits to over six million people across the country. This foundation doesn't publicly articulate a giving strategy or theory of change behind its grantmaking. But it is clear that the Los Angeles area is a priority for the company and its foundation.

Health Net also recently committed $235,000 in charitable contributions to improve the quality of medical care in Los Angeles, Kern, San Joaquin, Stanislaus and Tulare counties. This money was split among 18 primary care physicians in the counties.

“The physicians are receiving between $10,000 and $15,000 each to help them upgrade their medical equipment and, in some cases, their in-office computer systems,” said Clarey. “These kinds of improvements are intended to help the physicians better serve their patients and improve the overall patient experience.”

The target of Health Net’s recent grantmaking has been low-income individuals in medically underserved areas. This is just the second round of Health Net grants to fund office and equipment upgrades for doctors, so we’re interested to see how this funder’s support evolves in the coming year. You can learn more about the foundation’s leader, Patricia Clarey, on corporate governance bio and LinkedIn page.