Housing is Healthcare and Opportunity Starts at Home

Miguel Discusses How Not Having an Affordable Home Affected His Health

On Wednesday, July 24, 2019, Miguel Rodriguez will speak at the Congressional Reception in Washington, DC. Miguel will discuss his experience with homelessness and the need for housing and homeless assistance programs. 

Miguel lives in Magnolia, New Jersey, and is a constituent of US Representative Donald Norcross (D-NJ-1).

Miguel’s mental health declined, and he eventually got into legal trouble. He served a three-year prison sentence, which ended in 2012.  In 2012, he was released from prison and excited to return home to his family, only to discover that they had left him and sold the house with no warning.

With no home or family members to lean on, Miguel became homeless. He tried staying in various shelters but was constantly nervous that the few things he had, would get stolen. Therefore, he felt safer sleeping on the streets and in abandoned buildings.

Finding food to eat became a big issue for Miguel. When he was not in a shelter, he would eat whatever he could find. In the meantime, his mental health and drastically declined to the point where he refused help.

Miguel could not afford health care and was not receiving the treatment he needed for his mental health problems. His mental health issues eventually lead to physical health issues. He developed addictions and experienced severe heart problems as a result of his addictions. By 2013, he needed heart bypass surgery.  This surgery could have been avoided if Miguel received adequate, affordable health care from the beginning.

Throughout his experience of homelessness and his health crises, Miguel knew he needed a home. He recognized that a home of his own would provide him stability and a healthier lifestyle. He sought help from the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers, who provided him with various health care procedures and services. The Camden Coalition helped Miguel receive healthcare. They advised him and guided him through the process to find housing by applying for and receiving a Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher.

Since 2016, Miguel has had a home of his own. His health, as a result, has significantly improved. Now that he is healthy, Miguel has begun taking advocacy coursework at Rutgers University in hopes that he can serve as an advocate for individuals with similar experiences.

Miguel says that housing has provided him with the ability to livea normal life and work on his health. He also says that Medicaid enabled him to make the necessary appointments to heal both physically and mentally and to be a productive member of society once again.

Like so many Americans, Miguel’s health was reliant on being in a stable and affordable home. The health of those experiencing homelessness is almost always impacted. Medicaid provides health insurance to low-income people who would otherwise be unable to pay healthcare costs. Protecting and Expanding Medicaid is one of the Federal Policy Priorities for the 2019 Congressional Reception. Policymakers and elected officials must recognize that Housing is Healthcare. Show your support for Miguel and all whose health have suffered from homelessness by attending this year’s Congressional Reception!