At The Wallace Medical Concern, we help our patients get well, and we support them in taking on the root problems that lead to poor health. This year, Wallace began a pilot program to tackle one of the biggest determinants of health for our patients: housing.
We estimate 20 percent of Wallace patients have experienced homelessness in the last six months. Without intervention, many will wait years for affordable housing opportunities to arise. Meanwhile, their health problems can grow out of control. It’s too easy to lose hope.
Below is the story of our very first family to find housing through our new program, Housing for Health. Their story is a reminder of the struggle so many families face to stay safe, housed and healthy… and how Wallace and our supporters can make a difference!
Two years ago, Robert Baker’s car was towed, and he was fired for not getting to work on time. Without an income, his family struggled to make rent. They were quickly evicted, and he, his wife Ashley, their five-year-old son and their newborn twins found themselves living in his car.
The past two years have been desperately hard for the Bakers. Robert works three poorly-paying jobs, and Ashley’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefits ended. Without enough room to sleep comfortably, they took turns sleeping in the trunk. The whole family caught and shared colds. Then, two months ago, Ashley broke out with shingles, aggravated by sleeping in the cramped car seat. Her pain and frustration became overwhelming.
Things started looking up when the Bakers saw the sign for The Wallace Medical Concern as they drove past. They pulled over to get Ashley help. As a part of her care that day, Ashley was asked about her housing situation and other health determinants. She was immediately referred to our Housing for Health program.
Housing for Health connects Wallace patients with a Housing Navigator, who identifies affordable housing resources and helps make the transition into housing go smoothly. Housing Navigator Christine Sanders worked closely with the Bakers, finding a 3-bedroom home they could rent with a subsidy, and enrolling them in classes to teach them the homemaking and budgeting skills they need to stay in their new home.
“It all starts with housing,” said Christine. “Take care of that one big stressor, and suddenly everything else becomes fixable.” Meanwhile, the whole Baker family became Wallace patients, and began receiving regular medical and dental care for the first time. Their son’s school attendance improved.
The day of the move, Christine rented a truck and took the Bakers to Community Warehouse. Ashley and Robert picked out furniture and appliances they would need. The twins grabbed baskets and filled them with toys to bring home.
As Ashley and Robert unpacked boxes, their oldest son followed Robert around, imitating him. The twins ran from room to room, chasing each other. Ashley eventually sat down to stretch her legs. Teary-eyed, she told Christine she felt like they were a normal family again, adding:
“I felt like everyone had given up on us. Thank you for seeing us, and helping.”
With the Bakers moved in, our Housing for Health team is focused on keeping up the momentum. “There are two more Wallace families we’re trying to get off the street by New Year’s,” said Christine. “There’s a lot to do, but we can do it with the help of our supporters.
Please join me and support our mission of good health for everyone by making a gift today. Your contribution will give families who face almost unimaginable challenges the chance to return to good health—and a normal life—together.
Click here to make your gift and ensure affordable, quality health care is available to all.