Consumer Engagement

Giving people who are experiencing homelessness a voice about the care and support they receive

Health Care for the Homeless Day

Health Care for the Homeless Day

What is Health Care for the Homeless (HCH) Day?

#HCHValue on HCH Day in August

HCH Day is a part of of National Health Center Week, a celebration of the Health Center program and its critical role in the health care safety net, which is primarily organized by the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC).

HCH Day (Monday, August 8) celebrates the special population health centers of Health Care for the Homeless (HCH). Each year consumers and staff at HCH organizations hold events to highlight our shared work to meet the basic health care needs of people without homes, eliminate health disparities, and end homelessness. These events allow HCH projects to build relationships with community partners, engage elected officials, and show appreciation for the consumers, staff, and communities that support the vital work of HCH.


4 Ways to Celebrate Health Care for the Homeless Day

  • Demonstrate your value: Draw attention to your HCH center and the services that you provide
    • Have an open house or conduct tours of your HCH project
    • Hold a health fair and offer screenings or immunizations
    • Host a community meal or walk
    • Engage in outreach and inform individuals experiencing homelessness about services provided at your HCH project
    • Visit our webinar on Demonstrating Value to learn more about how to share the impact you have on your consumers and your community.
    • Learn more about the Value of HCH below
  • Give thanks: Honor your staff and the work that they do
    • Hold an awards ceremony to honor staff, volunteers, and board members
    • Celebrate together with a staff lunch or afternoon of team building activities
  • Advocate: Demonstrate policies that have helped you provide care and identify needs in policy change
    • Invite elected officials to your events and to tour your facility
    • Hold a voter registration drive
  • Join the movement: Share your challenges and goals with the national HCH movement.

We encourage consumers and staff of HCH projects to work together in organizing HCH day events at their projects. As individuals who have experienced homelessness and received services provided by HCH projects, consumers can offer a critical perspective on the value of HCH.


Organizing Your Own Event

Learn how to showcase HCH in your own community with our HCH Day resources:

  1. Find inspiration in past events hosted by HCH organizations below.
  2. Incorporate our HCH Value infographic into your messaging, or create your own image.
  1. Visit NACHC’s website dedicated to strategies and tools to plan National Health Center Week.
  2. Contact Katherine Cavanaugh, the Council’s Consumer Advocacy Manager, with any questions via email.


How Are You Celebrating? Let Us Know!

What events are you holding in your community? Please send us information on events you are hosting, share stories from the day and send over your photos for us to feature on this website. You can also post your event on the National Health Center Week page to let your community know about your event.

Send all material to Consumer Advocacy Manager.


The Value of Health Care for the Homeless

Homelessness is a significant barrier to good health. Poor nutrition, inadequate hygiene, exposure to violence and weather-related illness and injury, increased risk of contracting communicable diseases, and the constant stress of housing instability all contribute to the health issues faced by individuals experiencing homelessness.

Without housing, what many see as a simple scrape endured from falling down can become infected, routine colds can develop into pneumonia, and manageable chronic diseases such as asthma, hypertension, diabetes, and HIV can become disabling, life-threatening, and costly conditions. Rates of all illnesses for people experiencing homelessness are three to six times higher than those of other populations, and life expectancy is 30 years shorter.

HCH organizations work to provide critical health care services in a comprehensive, team-based model that seeks to address the interconnected health and social problems faced by most individuals experiencing homelessness. The work of HCH projects is critical for meeting the basic health care needs of the vulnerable population experiencing homelessness while eliminating health disparities and moving towards ending homelessness in our country.

HCH projects work to provide accessiblequality, and comprehensive care.

  • Accessibility for people without homes requires additional effort for health centers. Dispossessed people are often reluctant to seek services in a system that has failed to meet their needs, and competition to have all their needs met can keep them away from clinic doors. Many HCH projects take care directly to the streets and shelters, actively seeking out the most vulnerable of our neighbors.
  • Quality care for people who are unstably housed is attainable.  Good clinical practices like patient self-determined goal setting, motivational interviewing, and trauma-informed approaches are generating outcomes on a par with or better than the outcomes of other populations on measures like hypertension control.
  • Comprehensive care is possible in HCH because a multitude of actors collaborates with those inside the medical exam room to address the needs of the whole person, including mental health, substance abuse, and social needs.  Many HCH projects are also involved in innovative treatment models, such as patient-centered medical homes, permanent supportive housing, and medical respite care programs; which have the potential to lower system-wide costs and improve the health and stability of homeless persons.


Spotlight: How HCH Health Centers Are Celebrating in 2022

Email the Consumer Engagement Manager to tell us how you are celebrating and we will feature you here!

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