WHATCOM COUNTY, WASH. (Nov. 2019) — Community Health Plan of Washington, Unity Care NW and Opportunity Council partner to address North Sound housing needs. A $12,000 grant will support ongoing efforts to improve the health of communities across Washington.

Community Health Plan of Washington media releaseNovember 2019

SEATTLE – November, 2019 – People suffering from housing instability in Whatcom County now have access to increased housing resources thanks to a $12,000 grant from Community Health Plan of Washington(CHPW) and Unity Care to Opportunity Council.

Studies have found that housinginstability has been associated with asthma, tuberculosis, and developmental delays. At a time when 22,304 people across Washingtonare experiencing homelessness, this partnership will enable CHPW to gain a deeper understanding of the needs of its members so it can better address housing issues while improving health outcomes.

“Health should be a community endeavor, and we strive to make sure that all people have access to the services they need to be healthy,”said Leanne Berge, CEO of CHPW. “As a not-for-profit health plan, all of our profits are reinvested into communities across Washington. We’re proud to join forces with Unity Care NW and Opportunity Council to better support the housing needs of people in Whatcom County.”

Access to stable housing and support can reduce emergency department usage and incarceration while enabling people to create deeper ties to their community. These organizations will assist each other in furthering their missions to serve their unsheltered and unstably housed individuals.

“For 50 years we have been fighting poverty in our local communities and finding solutions to support our most vulnerable populations,” says Greg Winter, Executive Director of Opportunity Council. “This partnership will allow us to further improve the lives of families and individuals by providing not only shelter, education and food, but also supporting their overall health. We can better promote self-sufficiency and long-term change in our communities by addressing the issue from a holistic perspective.”

Administered by Opportunity Council in Northwest Washington, Washington State’s Foundational Community Supports(FCS) program offers benefits for supportive housing and supported employment for Medicaid-enabled beneficiaries with complex needs. The CHPW and Unity Care NW grant will be partnered with other rental assistance funds to support CHPW members enrolled in the FCS program to maximize its impact.

With homelessness having one of the largest impacts on a person’s health outcomes,supporting housing initiatives provides an opportunity for CHPW to better manage members’ health outcomes and help to address the housing health crisis.To learn more about CHPW, visit www.chpw.org. For additional information about Opportunity Council, visit www.oppco.org.

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About CHPW

Founded in 1992 by a network of community and migrant health centers in Washington State, Community Health Plan of Washington is a community-governed, not-for-profit health plan. The mission of CHPW is to deliver accessible managed care services that meet the needs and improve the health of Washington communities and to make managed care participation beneficial for community-responsive providers. CHPW serves approximately 265,000 members through Medicaid and Medicare programs across the State. Its parent, CHNW, serves nearly one million individuals across Washington through 161 sites. To learn more, visit chpw.orgor connect on Facebook, Twitter,Instagram, or LinkedIn.

About Opportunity Council

Opportunity Council was founded in 1965 and began as a grassroots group of volunteers and staff. OC, a vita Community Action Agency in Washington state, serves 18,000 people a year in Whatcom, Island and San Juan counties providing services that address immediate and crisis-oriented needs. This includes food, emergency shelter and eviction-protection, as well as longer-term programs that promote self-sufficiency in communities, like early childhood education and home weatherization. The private, non-profit CAA serves homeless and low-income families. To learn more, visit oppco.orgor connect on Facebook.