HCH Heroes: Aspiring to Health Care Justice

Written by Katherine Cavanaugh, NHCHC Consumer Advocate. This essay is part of our celebration of HCH Day.

“Contemporary homelessness is the product of conscious social and economic policy decisions that have retreated from a commitment to ensuring basic life necessities for all people.”

This is a founding principle of the National HCH Council and is evident in the awe-inspiring and admirable commitment of our community members. Our care for individuals experiencing homelessness is more than health care: it is a commitment to humanity and justice.

The HCH community has remained steadfast in our values of empathy, compassion, and righteousness. We spend each day struggling to provide for the health and wellness of individuals experiencing homelessness. We struggle to find resources for people to meet their basic needs – getting them to a place of thriving and not just surviving. We treat complex health and social issues that are complicated by trauma, which only exacerbates behavioral health issues. The work of HCH programs is critical for meeting the basic health care needs of this vulnerable population, while eliminating health disparities and moving towards the end of homelessness in our country.

The National HCH Council recognizes that health disparities and homelessness are symptoms of a much larger pattern of injustice in the United States. Poverty is too often perpetuated by poor public policies and narrow social opinion, leaving millions unable to achieve their potential. We must continue to fight harmful policies that divest from people and promote those that respectfully provide for everyone’s needs.

The HCH Community will continue to be a part of the solution. We will not retreat from our commitment to ensure everyone has access to basic life necessities. Our work as health care and housing providers belongs to a much larger struggle to attain human and civil rights. We struggle because we know we can do better—we ought to do better. We can create communities that uplift humanity, ensure people can meet their needs, and bend the moral arc towards justice.

“We fight because history shows that those who construct a wall of compassion against hatred and ignorance change societies for the better. Understanding that the most significant challenges of our lives await us, we must breathe, refresh, and plan for how we bring our best selves to the fight for the future of those for which we advocate. Remember, you are not alone in your struggle. There are thousands of us working every day to help those struggling in our community. We need you at your best to hold on to the gains we made over the last several years and will need you at your best when the tide turns and opportunities present themselves in the future.”
– Matt Bennett

“My optimism isn’t the clouds-in-the-sky type, but is rooted in history; for inspiration, I go back to past successes in advancing human rights – the ending of slavery and apartheid, and the ongoing dismantling of Jim Crow. I view setbacks as momentary – we will eventually succeed as long as we don’t give up.”
– Bobby Watts