Project Description

It was finally feeling like spring while Jarod sat outside, waiting for his appointment with his doctor. He was enjoying the sunshine while it lasted; he knows that sometimes it snows in April.

Jarod has been homeless for a number of years while struggling with addiction. He ended up on the streets after a bad breakup, and drugs drove him out of his home. “Sometimes I would go check into the shelter and shower,” he explained, but life ended up taking him in and out of the jail system. It was a cycle that he couldn’t seem to get out of.

It wasn’t until he found REACH, a program serving adult males recently released from jail, that things started to change. They taught him to look for help when he needed it, and Jarod was finally ready to change. Research shows that 74% of high-risk offenders return to jail within four years of release, and REACH helps these men find a way out by using behavioral health treatment, housing support, and case management services to find employment, housing, and stability in the community.

Getting coverage when Medicaid falls short

REACH has helped Jarod in many ways, but there have still been many obstacles. Obtaining Medicaid coverage has been difficult for him over the years and he is not alone in these issues. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) increased Medicaid coverage for individuals experiencing homelessness. States that experienced expansion under ACA saw a jump in coverage from 37% to 59%, compared to states that didn’t expand, from 19% to 20%. But despite these increases, proving someone qualifies is still difficult. Living conditions are stressful and uncertain; about 40% of homeless men and women in the US are living with a disability. This creates barriers to maintaining a job and proving someone qualifies for Utah Medicaid.

Jarod’s Utah Medicaid coverage has been off and on, but Fourth Street Clinic has been there for him. “They’ve done a lot. I couldn’t believe that they got me Medicaid. I’d been trying to get disability for 9 years,” Jarod said thankfully, “They’ve helped me get stuff done. And now I can follow up on my medications and move for disability and stuff.” He had access to medications when Medicaid didn’t apply to him—as well as dental work, doctor visits, and getting prescription eyeglasses.

Jarod’s story shows the many barriers facing a person’s life when homeless. However, Fourth Street Clinic focuses on providing care and services to alleviate all aspects of homelessness so patients stay healthy and see real improvements. Donate to support Fourth Street Clinic and you can reduce homelessness in Utah. Every little bit helps—and patients like Jarod benefit and are thankful for the help to get him to where he wants to be.