Illumination Foundation Selected for Statewide Initiative to Improve Health and Housing Outcomes for People Experiencing Homelessness

Orange, July 19, 2022 – Illumination Foundation—along with CalOptima and Orange County Health Care Agency (HCA)—were one of eight teams selected to join Partnerships for Action: California Health Care & Homelessness Learning Collaborative. This new initiative will support partnerships between health care and homeless service organizations to pilot projects focused on improving care delivery and health and housing outcomes for Californians experiencing homelessness. The project is led by the Center for Health Care Strategies (CHCS) and is made possible by the California Health Care Foundation.

California has the largest number of people experiencing homelessness in the nation, with more than 151,000 individuals living on the streets and in shelters, including a disproportionate number of people of color. People experiencing homelessness have less access to necessary preventive, primary, and specialty health care services, suffer poorer health outcomes and lower life expectancy than the general population due to racial/ethnic inequities. 

“We are honored to participate in this initiative and collaborate with our long-term partners CalOptima and Orange County Health Care Agency to address the healthcare and housing needs of those experiencing homelessness in Orange County,” said Illumination Foundation Co-CEO Pooja Bhalla, DNP, RN. 

Illumination Foundation, CalOptima, and HCA will build upon their work with the Whole Person Care and Health Homes Program and continue to work with homeless clients entering recuperative care through CalOptima with the goal of getting them into permanent housing. CalOptima and HCA will prioritize hospital and emergency room high utilizers for housing opportunities. 

The goal of this program is to implement a whole-person model of care with high utilizing homeless clients by providing comprehensive screening and assessment to identify the most critical health care needs while also addressing their Social Determinants of Health (SDOH). Through this approach, the participants will improve their health outcomes, reduce health care costs, reduce racial inequity in services, and increase housing stability. 

Over the next two years, Illumination Foundation, CalOptima, and HCA, will work together to help develop and/or enhance strategies to improve health and housing outcomes for people experiencing homelessness. The initiative is designed to strengthen health care and homeless service organization partnerships and address new opportunities made possible through California Advancing and Innovating Medi-Cal (CalAIM), the state’s ambitious Medicaid transformation effort that is focused on redesigning health care delivery for high-need populations, including people experiencing homelessness.

“CalOptima looks forward to making a difference through the Partnership for Action program and working alongside our valued partners,” said Michael Hunn, CalOptima CEO. “Together, we can develop a stronger continuum of care for people experiencing homelessness and amplify the new CalAIM benefits of housing supportive services and recuperative care to meet the critical needs of Orange County’s most vulnerable population.”   

“Partnerships between health care, social services, and housing providers are essential to foster a whole-person care approach for people experiencing homelessness,” said Michelle Schneidermann, MD, Director of People-Centered Care, California Health Care Foundation. “We’re excited to support these innovative cross-sector partnerships working toward the promise of CalAIM—delivering care that is responsive, coordinated, comprehensive, and just.”

The learning collaborative will build the capacity of eight cross-sector teams—composed of health care organizations, managed care plans, community-based organizations, housing providers, and other stakeholders—to partner in establishing a more robust support network for people experiencing homelessness. Throughout the initiative, CHCS will distill lessons from the sites’ efforts, which will be shared broadly with stakeholders in California and across the country. For more information, visit CHCS’ website

About Illumination Foundation

Illumination Foundation is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that provides targeted, interdisciplinary services for the most vulnerable homeless adults and children in order to disrupt the cycle of homelessness. The organization provides a full continuum of care from street to home, including case management, medical coordination, behavioral health and substance use counseling, and housing navigation to our vulnerable clients in shelters/navigation centers, family emergency shelters, recuperative care/medical respite facilities, and permanent supportive housing.

About CalOptima

A county organized health system, CalOptima provides publicly funded health care coverage for low-income children, adults, seniors, and people with disabilities in Orange County, California. CalOptima’s mission is to serve member health with excellence and dignity, respecting the value and needs of each person. In total, CalOptima serves more than 911,000 members with a network of more than 10,600 primary care doctors and specialists as well as 41 acute and rehab hospitals.

About Orange County Health Care Agency 

The Orange County Health Care Agency (HCA) is a regional provider charged with protecting and promoting individual, family, and community health through coordination of public and private sector resources. HCA’s service environment is complex, with 180 different funding sources and over 200 State and Federal mandates. Some examples of services include mental health services, alcohol and drug abuse services, preventive health services for the aging, healthcare for incarcerated individuals, communicable disease control, child health and disability program, public health field nursing, and public health clinics. From 2017-2021, HCA served as the Lead Agency for the Whole Person Care (WPC) Program focused on programing comprehensive coordination and case management to high utilizing homeless Orange County residents. Orange County’s primary populations of focus included homelessness, high-utilizers, mild to moderate, and/or severe mental illness/substance use disorders (SMI/SUD). In the six years of the pilot, over 16,000 Orange County residents who were homeless or at risk of homeliness.

About the California Health Care Foundation

The California Health Care Foundation is dedicated to advancing meaningful, measurable improvements in the way the health care delivery system provides care to the people of California, particularly those with low incomes and those whose needs are not well served by the status quo. We work to ensure that people have access to the care they need, when they need it, at a price they can afford. 

About the Center for Health Care Strategies

The Center for Health Care Strategies is a policy design and implementation partner devoted to improving outcomes for people enrolled in Medicaid. We support partners across sectors and disciplines to make more effective, efficient, and equitable care possible for millions of people across the nation. For more information, visit

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