Monday, August 29, 2011

A New Direction in Homelessness...

I met recently with Jennifer Loving, the CEO of Destination: Home. They are a great Silicon Valley agency working to end chronic homelessness, and I’m inspired by their effort.

I’ll admit something to you: There are times when I’ve turned away at seeing a homeless person or family, as it’s just too painful. But let’s take the emotion out of the issue for a minute: Our community spends tens of millions annually (yes, right here in Silicon Valley) without addressing the core issue that people need a home.

Because if they had one, we ALL would benefit. Several studies show that a person that is chronically homeless costs $60,000 a year…in shelters, food assistance, law enforcement – but mostly, medical care. In our community, that means Valley Medical Center.

You may know that Jennifer Loving’s team surveyed some of our county’s homeless a couple of months ago. Here’s some of what they learned from the 943 people they met:

- 100 were 60 years old or more
- More than half visited the emergency department in the last 3 months, resulting in
- 644 hospitalizations in a year.
- Half reported a serious medical condition like heart disease, hepatitis or liver disease.
- 144 were veterans (this, IMHO, is a national disgrace).
- Almost all reported a behavioral health issue or mental illness.

There is a ton more data at but you get my point: Even if I didn’t care about the homeless (I do), I’d sure care about the money they cost us all. And I won’t live in a society that just lets them die. I’ll leave. Goodbye.

While Destination Home works on longer-term solutions, Valley Medical Center meets short-term needs with an award-winning program called New Directions. VMC staff see frequent users of our county’s Emergency Department and provide housing, transportation and specialized assistance…the goal being to keep them healthier and out of the hospital.

The VMC Foundation raises money to support New Directions, but funds have run dry. If you would like to help, please click here and give as generously as you can.

There are more than 7,000 homeless people in Santa Clara County on any given night. Help us help them, with my thanks.

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