Robert Holdridge spent months living in a tent encampment on the west side of Santa Cruz. After a debilitating fall, Holdridge spent three days in the hospital. Once discharged, he was fortunate to be transferred to a program supported by Kaiser Permanente that provided him with a safe place to recuperate.
“It’s been life-changing, having a place to recover after the medical situation,” he said. “It saved my life, basically.”
Holdridge was discharged to the Recuperative Care Center in Santa Cruz, a temporary living and support facility operated through a partnership with the nonprofit Housing Matters and Santa Cruz County’s Homeless Persons’ Health Project.
“I hate to think what it would be if I was out trying to recover in a tent, with no basic hygiene, food or water,” he said.
As part of its efforts to improve access to medical care for people experiencing homelessness, Kaiser Permanente provided a $100,000 grant to the Recuperative Care Center. The center provides unhoused people like Holdridge with a safe, clean place to recuperate after leaving the hospital.
The grant is part of a larger $3.4 million investment Kaiser Permanente is making nationally to expand and improve medical respite programs through a partnership with the National Institute for Medical Respite Care.
“At our center, residents get shelter, which means a roof over their heads, privacy, their own bedroom, a bathroom, three meals a day. They’re able to recover in a way they wouldn’t be able to if they were out in the street, just trying to survive.”
— Tom Stagg, Chief Initiative Officer of Housing Matters
Stagg said residents of the Recuperative Care Center receive professional medical care, and later, assistance from Housing Matters to relocate to a permanent home. Holdridge said he is already looking to get off the streets and have a stable roof over his head.
“We believe everyone can be housed with the right support,” said Phil Kramer, the CEO of Housing Matters in Santa Cruz.
Kaiser Permanente is making additional investments to Housing Matters to help ensure people like Eldridge can move into permanent housing. A $250,000 Kaiser Permanente grant is helping Housing Matters transform a converted Victorian home on River Street into seven units of supportive housing. Each of the units contains a small kitchen, a bathroom, a large closet, and a living room/bedroom.
“Kaiser Permanente sees the connection between housing and health,” Kramer said. “This is our first seven units, but Kaiser Permanente has made a significant financial commitment to a much larger project as well.”
In addition to the River Street complex, Kramer said Housing Matters is about to break ground on another five-story, 120 units of supportive care housing on its Coral Street campus in Santa Cruz. Kaiser Permanente has committed an additional $500,000 for the project called the Harvey West Permanent Supportive Housing.
“An important part of Kaiser Permanente’s mission is to support the health of the communities we serve,” said Irene Chavez, senior vice president and area manager of the Kaiser Permanente Central Coast area. “We recognize that addressing social and economic inequities and supporting access to housing, food, and medical care are central to keeping our communities healthy.”
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