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The Center for Urban Community Services (CUCS), the clearinghouse for supportive housing services in New York City, has long been a nationwide model for supportive housing, through which social, medical, and psychiatric services are all co-located with shelter. The goal is to help address the complex array of interlinked challenges faced by people experiencing homelessness with quality services, all in one place.

Older adults who have experienced homelessness tend to suffer from higher burdens of chronic health conditions starting at a younger age than others, and this population has long struggled to get the care they need. Historically there has been little overlap between providers with expertise in treating patients who are homeless and providers with expertise in geriatric and palliative care.

In response, CUCS developed specialized geriatric and palliative psychiatry services to treat the growing number of older adults with lived experience of homelessness, integrating them first into its provision of primary health care. Then, with support from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) as part of its Global Health Initiative (GHI), the nonprofit also integrated these geriatric and palliative care approaches into the psychiatric care it provides, training additional staff to deliver them. By expanding the overlap between providers with expertise in homelessness and providers with expertise in geriatric and palliative care, CUCS is helping get a greater number of people the comprehensive care they need.

Because CUCS trains staff at agencies across the city and the country, the sort of high-quality geriatric and palliative psychiatry care offered by CUCS will become more widely available beyond the patients whom the nonprofit serves directly.

SNF first supported CUCS in 2015 for its pioneering street medicine program, the first of its kind in New York City. SNF also provided emergency personal protective equipment to CUCS providers early in the pandemic and has provided general operating support for its goal of meeting people where they are and getting as close as possible to the root causes of homelessness.