Homeless encampment under a highway in Seattle. • Photo by Alex Garland, South Seattle Emerald.

The following is a statement from DESC (Downtown Emergency Service Center).

Vulnerable adults who are experiencing chronic homelessness are among those in the greatest need of primary health care services, and among those least able to access it. The unmet healthcare needs of homeless people are estimated to be six to ten times higher than people who are stably housed, and as a result, homeless people have a life expectancy twenty or more years shorter than the norm. Thanks in part to this generous $35,000 gift from Amerigroup Washington, DESC (Downtown Emergency Service Center) has a newly renovated space to provide immediate, appropriate primary care services where they are most desperately needed – on‐site in Seattle’s oldest and largest emergency survival shelter for adults experiencing homelessness with a priority on those with serious mental illnesses and substance use disorders.

The unmet need is exponentially higher among homeless people living with serious mental illnesses, substance use disorders, developmental or physical disabilities, and a host of chronic medical conditions. These are individuals who, too often, don’t access care in conventional community health clinics due to the severity and symptoms of their behavioral and other health needs. Too often, their only care is provided in an expensive and frequently unnecessary visit to the emergency room. Yet, the funds help transform a former indoor smoking room in the shelter to a primary care clinic, a place for healing and health, providing Seattle residents a path to a healthier future.

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