In the December 2015 edition of Public Health Law News (PHLN), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a Profile in Public Health Law interview with MHSA President & Executive Director Joe Finn. The interview explored the intersection between public health and homelessness, with an emphasis on MHSA’s work regarding the integration of health care and housing. As the excerpt below highlights, failing to address the health implications of homelessness can be extremely costly:
PHLN: Why is homelessness a public health problem?
Finn: Homelessness represents total systems failure in our society, especially within health care. Society’s lack of focus on the social determinants of health means that we attempt to provide health interventions to people living on the streets instead of working toward a true model of integrated care that serves those people in housing. As a result, we spend exorbitant amounts of dollars on interventions that are not successful, exhausting critical resources while the health issues of this vulnerable population continue to be exacerbated.