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.