Enews 5-18-23: Human Service Summit 2023; Perspectives on Homelessness; 2023 County Health Rankings; Medicaid Renewal Presentation

Register Today for June 21 Human Service Summit

Our 2023 Human Service Summit will bring attention to one of Johnson County’s most complex issues: homelessness. Participants will explore the realities of homelessness in our community and hear about the collaborative solutions that are already making a difference. Register today for this important conversation.

Participants will learn about a planning initiative called the Dignity Project which aims to address gaps to meet the needs of the unhoused in our community. Attainable housing is the best prevention to homelessness and other innovative approaches can help to further strengthen our housing continuum. The work is already underway; more than 20 interviews with local and regional service providers and housing providers have taken place. Next, the planning partners for the Dignity Project will dive deeper into models and solutions to address the emergent needs of those experiencing homelessness in Johnson County. Dignity Project’s work is about establishing a “front door” for housing in Johnson County. It is paramount that the vision includes outflow housing that includes Permanent Supportive Housing, affordable housing, as well as home ownership for moderate income families.

We recognize that the key to addressing homelessness and other big issues is to do it together. We each have a role to play in making our community a better place for all. Attendees at the 2023 Human Service Summit will participate in activities and discussions that will equip them to take action together.Save your spot for the 2023 Human Service Summit.

Perspectives on Homelessness: Tim DeWeese

"We talk a lot about Johnson County being a good place to live, play and work," said Tim DeWeese, Director of Johnson County Mental Health Center. "But it's really difficult to promote that when it may be out of reach for a large portion of the population."

Tim will be a panelist at our Human Service Summit on June 21st. The event will focus on housing insecurity in Johnson County, a topic Tim believes is crucial to address. One key concern is the lack of a year-round emergency shelter for individuals experiencing homelessness in Johnson County.

"The point of most need is when a person has nowhere to stay," said Tim. "That is one of the greatest needs we have, to provide people emergency shelter and then begin to work filling in the gaps or addressing needs they have. It's a continuum. Getting an emergency shelter is just one step in that continuum."

The continuum of care requires the whole community to engage. "Homelessness is not a mental health issue. It's not a police issue. It's a community issue that needs a community response," Tim shared. "When you build that continuum of supportive services, that's when you are able to address the issue of chronic homelessness." Tim hopes to see this in action at the Human Service Summit in June. "It's a perfect opportunity to come together and identify some actionable steps to move these issues forward. The time for action is now."

The Picture of Health in Johnson County: 2023 County Health Rankings

Johnson County continues to be ranked as the healthiest county in Kansas, according to the 2023 County Health Rankings report released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. This year’s report highlights the importance of civic health—or the opportunities people have to participate in their communities. The report looked at data related to civic infrastructure and civic participation. Civic infrastructure includes spaces such as parks, libraries, schools, and community centers. Civic participation includes voting, census participation and other ways that people engage in their communities to create change or improve conditions. In Johnson County, nearly 80% of residents participated in the 2020 Decennial Census, compared to 65% nationally. During the 2020 presidential election 81% of residents 18 or older voted, compared to 65% across the state of Kansas.

With a strong emphasis on the social determinants of health, the report reviews 39 measures to determine how healthy our communities are now, and how our health may be impacted in the future. Half of these measures relate to healthy behaviors and clinical care, including: how much we exercise, how healthy our diets are, and the quality of healthcare we can access. The other half are related to our physical environment and social and economic factors such as where we live, educational attainment opportunities, social connection, discrimination and access to opportunity, and community safety.

Community Conversation about Medicaid Unwinding on May 23

Join the Wyandotte County Community Health Improvement Plan team for an information session about the Kansas Medicaid renewal process and how you can help those in the coverage gap. The meeting will take place Tuesday, May 23, 2023, from 12:00 - 1:30pm at Memorial Hall, 600 7th St. Trfy, Kansas City, Kansas, 66101.

Panelists include Storybank & Policy Specialist, Marissa Alcantar, along with Molly Gotobed of Community Health Council of Wyandotte County, Justin Gust of El Centro, Inc., and Laura Canelos of UnitedHealthcare of Kansas. Click here for more information and to register.

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