Photo via Wikimedia Commons

A group of 10 hospitals in the city today pledged $2 million over two years toward a program that provides housing and medical services for people experiencing homelessness.

Funds from the partnership, officials said, will give homes and aid for 200 individuals and families, with the medical organizations providing medical care and other services “in the effort to break the cycle of homelessness,” per a release.

“As mayor of Baltimore, I’m committed to ending homelessness, not just managing it,” Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young said at a press conference today.

The announcement comes one day after the Mayor’s Office of Homeless Services became an independent office, a change implemented last month at Young’s urging.

Some of the money from the hospitals will also be used for a fund to remove barriers to housing, he said, and help with necessities such as security deposits, furniture, application fees and transportation.

Primarily, the hospitals are donating the money to receive matching funds from Medicaid through the Assistance in Community Integration Services Pilot administered by the Maryland Department of Health.

The program is designed to show that homeless individuals who receive treatment in permanent housing will ultimately see a reduction in health care costs, Young’s office said in a release.

Participating hospitals include Johns Hopkins Hospital, the University of Maryland Medical Center, Sinai Hospital, Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, Mercy Medical Center, MedStar Union Memorial Hospital, St. Agnes Hospital, MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital and MedStar Harbor Hospital. The Weinberg Foundation is also pledging $200,000, Young said.

Advocates and representatives from several participating medical institutions at the presser stressed the importance of establishing stable housing for better health outcomes.

Redonda Miller, president of Johns Hopkins Hospital, said each of the hospitals had similar stories of homeless people returning to emergency rooms for care, and social workers who tried to connect patients to resources “but still struggled to find a more effective answer to wellness.”

Ten percent of the 35,000 patients treated each year at the University of Maryland Medical Center are homeless, said president and CEO Mohan Suntha, and as many as one-third struggle to pay housing costs.

“We’ve understood for a long time that while we can solve many medical conditions within the walls of our hospital, we’re often challenged to take on solutions that extend outside the walls of our institutions,” he said.

Kevin Lindamood, president and CEO of the advocacy group Healthcare for the Homeless, speaking to Young, recalled how over their two decades working together, he and the mayor have often talked about the need for more housing, only to be faced with diminishing federal resources.

“Under your leadership,” he told Young, “the city has said we’re not waiting for the feds–we’re finding innovative solutions today.”

Brandon Weigel is the managing editor of Baltimore Fishbowl. A graduate of the University of Maryland, he has been published in The Washington Post, The Sun, Baltimore Magazine, Urbanite, The Baltimore...