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Civil legal services and Medical-Legal Partnerships needed by the homeless population: a national survey

J. Tsai, D. Jenkins, E. Lawton
Am J Public Health

Objectives: To examine civil legal needs among people experiencing homelessness and the extent to which medical-legal partnerships exist in homeless service sites, which promote the integration of civil legal aid professionals into health care settings.

Methods: We surveyed a national sample of 48 homeless service sites across 26 states in November 2015. The survey asked about needs, attitudes, and practices related to civil legal issues, including medical-legal partnerships.

Results: More than 90% of the homeless service sites reported that their patients experienced at least 1 civil legal issue, particularly around housing, employment, health insurance, and disability benefits. However, only half of all sites reported screening patients for civil legal issues, and only 10% had a medical-legal partnership. The large majority of sites reported interest in receiving training on screening for civil legal issues and developing medical-legal partnerships.

Conclusions: There is great need and potential to deploy civil legal services in health settings to serve unstably housed populations. Training homeless service providers how to screen for civil legal issues and how to develop medical-legal partnerships would better equip them to provide comprehensive care.

Tsai J, Jenkins D, Lawton E. Civil legal services and Medical-Legal Partnerships needed by the homeless population: a national survey. Am J Public Health. 2017;107(3):398-401. PMID: 28103065. DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.2016.303596.

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Publication year
Resource type
Peer Reviewed Research
Outcomes
Process
Population
Homeless
Screening research
Yes
Social Determinant of Health
Employment
Health Care Access
Housing Quality
Housing Stability
Legal Services
Public Benefits
Study design
Other Study Design