GNYHA continued its Social Determinants of Health Learning Series with an April 14 webinar on the New York City Department of Homeless Services (DHS) Street Outreach Solutions Unit. DHS is charged with preventing homelessness, addressing street homelessness, providing safe shelter, and connecting New Yorkers experiencing homelessness to suitable housing.
Assistant Commissioner for Partnership, Capacity, Building, and Strategy Shane Cox, and Tonya Tillery, Assistant Commissioner of the Joint Command Center, highlighted how the Street Homeless Solutions Unit conducts 24/7 street and subway outreach and provides various services and supports for those experiencing unsheltered homelessness. They detailed how hospital staff can connect patients experiencing homelessness to the DHS outreach team, the shelter system, and other DHS resources, including drop-in centers, safe havens, and stabilization beds.
“Our goal is to provide a range of low-barrier, specialized services specifically targeted to individuals who have lived unsheltered for some time,” and who may be resistant to accepting other traditional services, Mr. Cox said.
The presentation also highlighted DHS resources available for hospitals when individuals experiencing homelessness arrive in the emergency department. Resources include pamphlets; Street Sheets, which highlight the nearest safe havens, drop-in center sites, soup kitchens, and clothing donation locations; and contact information for the DHS Help Hotline.
GNYHA’s Social Determinants of Health Learning Series helps members learn about research, public health, and community-based organization and health care provider perspectives and experiences in addressing social needs such as housing, food, financial, and job insecurity. Ongoing population health initiatives emphasize the need to address patients’ non-health care needs as part of comprehensive strategies to improve community health while reducing avoidable hospitalizations and improving performance on quality measures. This series is part of GNYHA’s broader efforts to help members with assessing and addressing social determinants of health.