By Paul Leon, RN, BSN, PHN, President and Chief Executive Officer, Illumination Foundation
When we started Illumination Foundation in 2008, we knew that homelessness was the result of long-term systemic inequities. We were certain that structural barriers to accessing healthcare was a major causal factor of homelessness. But 14 years ago, we didn’t know the best way to attack this problem. Well, I’m happy to say that a lot has changed since then.
The aim of healthcare equity is to ensure that everyone can access affordable, quality, and culturally competent healthcare regardless of their race, ethnicity, nationality, age, or socioeconomic status. During Illumination Foundation’s recent consortium, “Together We Can: Solutions to Address Health Equity,” I listened with enthusiasm as thought leaders from across the country discussed solutions to lowering the barriers vulnerable populations experience in accessing healthcare, confident that a framework for success is in place.
The solution requires a multi-sectoral commitment to addressing the systemic inequities that have fueled this crisis. Or to put it another way, it is essential that businesses, nonprofits, governments, and communities all do their part. As our keynote speaker, Lisa Marsh Ryerson, President of the AARP Foundation, a charitable affiliate of AARP focused on ending senior poverty, explained, there are five Must-Do’s:
- Businesses must commit to quality jobs
- Nonprofits must be given resources and make community connections
- Government policies and practices must help rebuild the social safety net
- We must recognize poverty as a national societal problem
- We must make building health equity a national movement
Learn more about housing and healthcare for those experiencing homelessness at www.ifhomeless.org.
Illumination Foundation is a California nonprofit organization that provides targeted, interdisciplinary services for the most vulnerable homeless adults and children in order to disrupt the cycle of homelessness.