Courtesy of mwcog.org

Kaiser Permanente plans to invest $200 million to end homelessness and incorporate affordable housing in cities nationwide.

Officials with the health care giant announced the plan Friday, May 18 with several mayors where homelessness affects about 500,000 people daily.

“We believe in the 21st century that no one living in this great country should have to go to bed in the streets of America,” said Kaiser CEO Bernard Tyson at the National League of Cities office in Northwest. “We are committed to work with these great mayors, with city leaders and other businesses in our communities, the government to solve a solvable problem and get rid of homelessness.”

The investment campaign, “Mayors & CEOs for U.S. Housing Investment,” one of the largest made by a private sector entity, proposes to invest money in several cities where Kaiser operates. The Oakland, California-based company has 12.2 million members in eight states and the District.

The plan lists several objectives and proposed federal policy recommendations, including:

• Start a national conversation that housing promotes family and job stability.
• Bring more businesses to partner with the public sector.
• Issue new and competitive HUD HIIRO (Housing Innovation, Investment and Reform and Opportunities grants.
• Create a housing stabilization fund that offers one-time, short-term emergency assistance to households are below 80 percent of median income.

At least one federal lawmaker, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California), plans to introduce legislation this year that will include the Kaiser initiative.

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh (Shevry Lassiter/The Washington Informer)

Mayors who attended Friday’s announcement mentioned their cities approved and received millions of dollars to boost housing and eradicate homelessness, but stressed more resources are necessary.

In Oakland, voters in 2016 approved a $600 million bond for affordable housing. Mayor Libby Schaaf said the city of 420,000 has nearly 2,800 homeless residents.

On her cellphone, she showed a video to a reporter where some people reside in tents along freeway off-ramps that stretches several blocks.

“A great city like Oakland should not look like that,” she said. “A great country like America should not live like that. We need the federal government to pony up some resources, too.”

Although Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh said the city plans to lease three garages to increase revenue, she urged business leaders to partner in this endeavor. She also said job training, health care and other social services must be a part of this project.

“I’m challenging my business community to step up to the plate,” said Pugh, who added that her city has about 3,000 homeless residents. “Whether we are building small houses, we have to build homes for the homeless.”

Coverage for the Washington Informer includes Prince George’s County government, school system and some state of Maryland government. Received an award in 2019 from the D.C. Chapter of the Society of...

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