Supportive Housing

In this chapter, freelance writer and journalist Lee Green traces the Foundation's investments in housing from early efforts to provide health care services to homeless people to its current support of the Corporation for Supportive Housing, which provides both housing and ancillary medical and social services to formerly homeless people. Foundations such as Robert Wood Johnson, Ford and Pew Charitable Trusts have adopted supportive housing as a way of assisting homeless people, as have government entities such as the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of the Treasury's Community Development Financial Institutions Fund program.

The chapter illustrates the breadth of the interventions that the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has undertaken in its efforts to improve the health of the American people. While it is fair to ask why a foundation devoted to improving health and health care should support housing programs, Green clarifies the relevance of housing to health and traces the linkage of the Foundation's supportive housing efforts to its earlier mental health initiatives. This linkage is particularly important since any homeless or formerly homeless people suffer from psychological or addiction problems.

Supportive housing offers a prime example of the Foundation's work to improve the medical and social services received by vulnerable populations. Grants to support direct services comprise the heart of what the Foundation calls its vulnerable populations portfolio and its commitment to support hands-on efforts to improve the care offered to society's most needy people.