Sunday, September 29, 2019

Dr. Joshua Bamberger On Homelessness: "Autonomy is Critical for Health"

The major points from last night's talk by Dr. Joshua Bamberger, keynote for the Festival of Belonging:

1. We need massive Federal investment in low income housing. It hasn't been done right since the 1970s. Until then, we can only wait and deal with the 10% of the problem as we can.

2. Autonomy is critical for health. Enforcement actions are unhealthy for humans without homes.

3.  The main cause of the homeless crisis is the economic gap between rich and poor.

4.  Health concern about encampments is unfounded. They are a concern for those who live in camps but they are no danger for those who are housed. (Needles, Hep C, Typhoid? He debunked them all.)

5. Shelters are a very partial answer, similar to hospital emergency rooms.

6. There's no evidence that mandatory treatment improves outcomes for people with addiction or mental health problems.

7.  There’s an emergency in seniors who have had jobs and homes all their lives, who are now becoming homeless.

8. We need to invest in programs that keep homeless people alive and safe until we can get the Federal investment to build the houses we need.

Dr. Bamberger was recently appointed as Associate Director of UCSF's $30 million Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative.  As a primary care physician and Master of Public Health, Dr. Bamberger has been working with San Francisco's homeless population at the Downtown Clinic and SF Health Department for nearly 30 years.

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