Care Coordination: Housing is Health

Housing is Health

It is well established that the most significant social determinant of health is safe, affordable housing. With several thousand men, women, and children in Milwaukee County considered homeless or unstably housed at any point in time, the Milwaukee Health Care Partnership is working with the Milwaukee County Housing Services and IMPACT Inc. to create pathways for patients experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity – especially those with complex medical and behavioral health needs – secure sustainable housing and supportive services.

In 2019, the members of the Milwaukee Health Care Partnership (MHCP) launched the Housing is Health Program for homeless and vulnerably housed patients receiving care at Milwaukee area health systems and safety-net clinics.

The program partners MHCP member hospitals and clinics with the Milwaukee County Housing Services (MCHS) and IMPACT Coordinated Entry social workers, or “navigators,” who help patients secure temporary housing, provide case management, and aid in their ultimate transition to permanent housing stability. Navigators also provide patients with a variety of support services including, public benefits, counseling, mental health and AODA treatment, tenancy education, temporary housing subsidies, and employment counseling. Navigators work with each patient from the time of referral until the individual is considered ‘housing stable,’ a process that can extend over many months. 

The Housing is Health Program’s aim is to address patient’s housing needs in order to improve health outcomes and reduce Emergency Department (ED) visits, inpatient stays, and readmissions.

In February 2024, the Wisconsin Policy Forum and IMPACT Planning and Evaluation published a report, Healthy Investment; How Health Care Stakeholders Are Linking Housing with Health, that provides an in-depth analysis of the MHCP Housing is Health Program within the broader landscape of health care-sponsored housing initiatives in Milwaukee County and nationwide.