About the Homeless Health Initiative
The Homeless Health Initiative (HHI) provides free health and health-related services to families living in local emergency housing shelters. It is a volunteer outreach program run by Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Dedicated volunteers from the HHI — including doctors, nurses, dentists, social workers and students — work to improve the health of families experiencing homelessness by:
- Providing high-quality, acute medical and dental care
- Connecting families with health insurance as well as primary and specialty care providers
- Providing health education on topics such as nutrition and fitness to shelter residents and staff members
- Collaborating with local and national partners to effectively advocate for the healthcare of children in shelters
- Assisting others in replicating the HHI model of collaboration, partnership and care
The Homeless Health Initiative began in 1988; medical residents and nurses at CHOP recognized that children living in emergency housing shelters just blocks from the Hospital had little access to medical care and support. At first, a small group of volunteers began offering free medical care several times a year in three West Philadelphia shelters.
Today, hundreds of HHI volunteers provide free health services to families at local shelters. HHI touches thousands of lives every year though customized programming designed to care for the health and welfare of families experiencing homelessness.