Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) provide care to homeless people in their communities. In addition to receiving grant support from the Community Health Center (CHC) program, some FQHCs -- usually those located in areas with high numbers of homeless people – may receive grants under the federal Health Care for the Homeless (HCH) Program to target care to homeless people. Some FQHCs only receive federal HCH grant support.
The Health Care for the Homeless Program was initially authorized under the Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act of 1987. Title VI of the McKinney Act added Section 340 to the Public Health Service (PHS) Act, establishing the Health Care for the Homeless (HCH) Program. In 1996, the HCH Program was re-authorized under section 330(h) of the PHS Act by the Health Centers Consolidation Act.
The HCH program emphasizes a multi-disciplinary approach to delivering care to homeless persons, combining aggressive street outreach with integrated systems of primary care, mental health and substance abuse services, case management, and client advocacy. Emphasis is placed on coordinating efforts with other community health providers and social service agencies.
The National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) supports all HCH health centers at both the program and policy levels.
NACHC’s Health Care for the Homeless Committee, composed of 30-35 NACHC members who serve homeless people, monitors policies and resources related to the HCH program, advices NACHC’s board of directors and staff on issues related to providing care to homeless people, and serves as a forum to strengthen collaboration among NACHC membership and other organizations that advocate for programs and policies to reduce unmet health care needs of homeless people and health-related problems that contribute to homelessness.
Most of NACHC’s resource materials relate to providing health care to all special populations, including homeless people. These include:
- Resource documents for health centers that provide care to homeless people. (see Publications – Special Populations series Information Bulletins, particularly numbers 6,7, and 8.)
- Education sessions at national meetings that relate to issues faced by HCH providers.
- Information and tools for National Health Care for the Homeless Day, celebrated as part of Health Center Week.
- NACHC collaborates with other national organizations, particularly the National Health Care for the Homeless Council, to strengthen support to HCH providers. Link to www.nhchc.org.
For more information, contact Betsy Vieth at 301-347-0400.