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Homelessness And Healthcare: Challenges & Local Resources


Something most people don’t think about is the significant challenges people facing homelessness deal with when trying to access healthcare. 

One of the biggest obstacles to receiving consistent medical care is the lack of a stable address. Without a fixed residence, most people struggle to establish a consistent relationship with healthcare providers, which is essential to their health.

When individuals stay with us at Fellowship Missions, we can help connect them with local resources and healthcare providers. It’s one of the most important things they can accomplish on their path toward independence and health.

Three Common Obstacles Our Homeless Population Faces

While more challenges are certainly possible, there are three large roadblocks most unhoused people face when trying to access consistent healthcare.

Lack Of Financial Support

Most people who are unhoused don’t have health insurance, which can make accessing medical care nearly impossible. While some are eligible for government assistance programs, the application and documentation process is difficult to navigate without a support support system. 

This financial strain means that homeless individuals are often forced to go without essential medical care, which creates a dangerous cycle of untreated health conditions that worsen.

Mental Health Challenges

According to a study done in 2022 by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 21% of individuals experiencing homelessness reported having a serious mental illness, and 16% reported having a substance use disorder.

Unfortunately, the stigma surrounding mental health can keep individuals from seeking help, making their mental health conditions more severe. Specialized mental health care can also be difficult to access due to similar barriers that come with accessing medical care.

Limited Health Literacy

Homeless individuals often face challenges related to low health literacy, which refers to the ability to understand and use health and medical insurance information. This can result in difficulties navigating healthcare systems, understanding medical instructions, and being unable to effectively advocate for their own health needs. 

Limited health literacy also causes misunderstandings about available services, preventive measures, and the importance of consistent medical care, making it even more difficult for homeless individuals to access the services they need.

Local Resources

One of the tools we have on our website is designed specifically to make it easy to find not only healthcare professionals but other essential services as well. You can find local recovery groups, mental health services, food pantries, and more.

Local Resource Guide

How We Provide Assistance

We’ve found that often, the most common issue unhoused individuals face when trying to access healthcare is the lack of knowledge about how to apply for health insurance. For example, Medicaid eligibility is filed online, so if someone doesn’t have computer knowledge or access to a computer, it makes it nearly impossible for them to get medical services.

Here at Fellowship Missions, we have several ways we help people access Medicaid.

  • Work alongside Brightpoint to complete an application and submit Medicaid paperwork. 
  • If someone would rather go through the process online, our staff walks them through the FSSA application, assisting them in completing and submitting it.

If a shelter resident needs to follow up at the local FSSA office in person, we do our best to assist them in finding transportation.

We’re also fortunate to have fantastic emergency local resources here in Kosciusko County if there is a health issue to address while someone is waiting for Medicaid to approve their application. 

We often help connect shelter residents with healthcare available in the K21 Pavilion where they have a medication and dental assistance program. Our staff regularly works with the healthcare providers in the K21 pavilion to assist shelter residents as they navigate Medicare and state health insurance through the SHIP program.

Ready To Get Involved?

We can’t provide necessary services to the unhoused people in our community without your help! We need your prayer support, financial support, willingness to volunteer, and physical donations. 

If you’re ready to get involved, click below to learn how you can help support Fellowship Missions.

What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

James 2:14-17, NLT