Kaiser expands Northern California homelessness efforts with another $3 million

By MARISA KENDALL | mkendall@bayareanewsgroup.com | Bay Area News GroupPUBLISHED: March 11, 2019 at 3:25 pm | UPDATED: March 12, 2019 at 4:14 am

Kaiser Permanente on Monday pledged $3 million to fight homelessness in several Northern California communities, expanding the healthcare giant’s efforts to eradicate the crisis that has swept through its hometown of Oakland and beyond.

Kaiser will partner with Community Solutions’ Built for Zero Initiative, a program that uses data to help local leaders better understand their homeless populations. Kaiser’s funds will go toward communities across the U.S. — including Contra Costa, Marin, Santa Cruz, Sacramento, Fresno and Madera counties.ADVERTISING

Kaiser already has contributed millions toward housing the homeless, mostly in its own backyard. The company contributed $6 million toward the Keep Oakland Housed initiative last year, and has helped support Oakland’s efforts to temporarily house homeless residents in converted Tuff Sheds. In January, Kaiser said it would spend $5.2 million to buy a 41-unit apartment building in Oakland to house the city’s homeless and at-risk residents. And last year Kaiser pledged to invest $200 million over three to five years in affordable housing and supportive services across the country.

“Living without a home can have a dramatic impact on a person’s health, yet many of the communities we serve are grappling with extreme rates of housing insecurity and homelessness,” Dr. Bechara Choucair, Kaiser’s chief community health officer, wrote in a news release. “We know there is no simple solution to such a complex problem, but through strategic partnerships, such as the one with Community Solutions, we believe it can be solved.”

Kaiser announced its latest push against homelessness at the annual South by Southwest music, art and technology conference in Austin, Texas.

Sandra Scherer, executive director of the Concord-based Monument Crisis Center, was enthusiastic about Kaiser’s contribution.

“Great news that Kaiser is putting a spotlight on this very critical issue in our community,” she wrote in an email.

Monument has 950 homeless clients, including seniors and families with children. Thousands more Monument clients barely have a roof over their heads, Scherer wrote. Many can’t afford the basics — food, housing, healthcare and transportation.