National Health Care for the Homeless Council Receives 2 point 9 Million Grant from the United Health Foundation

National Health Care for the Homeless Council Receives $2.9 Million Grant from the United Health Foundation

December 15, 2022

Funding to help expand behavioral health care at medical respite centers in Florida, Minnesota and North Carolina for people experiencing homelessness 

The National Health Care for the Homeless Council (NHCHC) will bring new behavioral health services into medical respite programs across three states thanks to a three-year, $2.9 million grant awarded by the United Health Foundation, the philanthropic foundation of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH).

Medical respite programs provide short-term residential care in a safe environment for people experiencing homelessness who no longer have a clinical reason to remain in a hospital but are too ill or frail to recover on the street or shelter. Although medical respite care primarily addresses acute care, behavioral health conditions are extremely prevalent in the respite care patient population.

“This partnership will result in better access to high-quality, comprehensive integrated care for patients experiencing homelessness,” said Bobby Watts, chief executive officer of NHCHC. Watts said the funding will strengthen the medical respite programs as they determine how to sustain behavioral health services. “It also helps each community meet the needs of its neighbors experiencing homelessness in more comprehensive and equitable ways.”

In 2020, NHCHC launched a special initiative, the National Institute for Medical Respite Care (NIMRC), the first national institute designed to advance best practices, expert services, and state-of-the-field knowledge in medical respite care.

Currently, there are 133 medical respite programs in the U.S. These programs provide 24-hour access to a bed, three meals per day, and transportation to medical appointments and care coordination.

The grant from United Health Foundation will enable NIMRC to enhance behavioral health services in Florida, Minnesota and North Carolina by:

  • Expanding operational capacity in medical respite programs that serve rural and urban homeless populations.
  • Providing technical assistance and training for each of the selected programs, including the creation of a “United Health Foundation Medical Respite Cohort” peer learning community. 
  • Assessing and evaluating how greater integration of medical and behavioral health services leads to improved access, better patient outcomes and greater care continuity for patients experiencing homelessness. 
  • Sharing best practices on integrated medical respite care for reducing health disparities and improving outcomes among individuals experiencing homelessness. 

“Every person deserves the opportunity to live their healthiest life and we are honored to work with organizations like NHCHC to help break down barriers wherever they exist — whether those are social, economic, environmental, or otherwise,” said Dr. Debra Katz, a senior national medical director at Optum Behavioral Health Solutions, a UnitedHealth Group business. 


Each of the following organizations will receive more than $500,000 in funding:

  • Bob Tavani House for Medical Respite, Duluth, Minn.
  • Haywood Street Congregation, Asheville, N.C.
  • Hennepin County Health Care for the Homeless, Minneapolis
  • Catholic Charities of Central Florida, Inc., Orlando, Fla.

For more information, contact Communications

About the National Health Care for the Homeless Council 

The National Health Care for the Homeless Council, based in Nashville, is the premier national organization working at the nexus of homelessness and health care. Grounded in human rights and social justice, the NHCHC’s mission is to build an equitable, high-quality health care system through training, research, and advocacy in the movement to end homelessness.  

About the National Institute for Medical Respite Care

Launched in July 2020, the National Institute for Medical Respite Care (NIMRC) is a special initiative of the National Health Care for the Homeless Council whose primary focus is on expanding medical respite care programs in the U.S. 

About the United Health Foundation

About the United Health Foundation  
Through collaboration with community partners, grants and outreach efforts, the United Health Foundation works to improve the health system, build a diverse and dynamic health workforce and enhance the well-being of local communities. The United Health Foundation was established by UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) in 1999 as a not-for-profit, private foundation dedicated to improving health and health care. To date, the United Health Foundation has committed more than $700 million to programs and communities around the world. To learn more, visit  

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