Greg Francis serves on the Planning Council for Health Care for the Homeless Network of PHSKC: “I had unmet health needs and only after I started to take care of myself, did I have the energy to get out.” Courtesy photo

Greg Francis serves on the Planning Council for Health Care for the Homeless Network of PHSKC: “I had unmet health needs and only after I started to take care of myself, did I have the energy to get out.” Courtesy photo

Staying involved helped one man out of homelessness, and empower others | Public Health Insider

Having a cause and advocating for others helped Greg Francis leave homelessness behind.

  • Friday, June 22, 2018 10:15am
  • News

The following is written by Rekha Ravindran, Health Care for the Homeless Network, for Public Health Insider:

Over the past decade, Greg Francis has moved into stable housing after living unsheltered – and he still remembers vividly what it was like to live unsheltered.

“It was tough,” he says. “It felt like someone else was controlling my life. So I came up with a plan.”

He partially credits activism, such as through his participation on Public Health – Seattle & King County’s Healthcare for the Homeless Network (HCHN) Planning Council.

Greg’s journey began in Long Island, NY. Feeling dissatisfied with life on the East Coast, he made his way West and ended up in San Francisco, where he first experienced homelessness. He found himself increasingly isolated and dealing with mental health issues, while remaining unsheltered.

On advice of his case managers, he became more involved in advocating for the needs of people experiencing homelessness. “What was really helpful in my development was being involved in the greater community,” he says, “with people who were involved in solutions to address homelessness.”

He found himself particularly motivated to address the intersection of health and homelessness. “You need to put a lot of energy to find housing,” he says. “I had unmet health needs and only after I started to take care of myself, did I have the energy to get out.”


He continued to serve as an advocate on numerous coalitions addressing the needs of people experiencing homelessness in San Francisco. But following a personal tragedy, Greg set out for Seattle.

And soon after he arrived, he found ways to remain active and interactive in the community. That helped him eventually move into supportive housing and then his own apartment. He now serves as co-chair on HCHN’s Planning Council.

From Greg’s experience, it’s important for people who are homeless to resist isolation and remain connected with the community at large. That’s one way to avoid developing a self-image that says they are fundamentally a homeless person.

“We need to find a place where people can engage on their terms, a place they are invested in. That’s my goal,” he says.


There’s also a role for the community at large, all the residents of King County – by helping to create and support those places where people can have meaningful and ongoing interactions.

Similar Health Care for the Homeless (HCH) programs across the country are honoring their community members today (June 21), through the National HCH Council – people like Greg, who have demonstrated exceptional capacity moving forward after experiencing and overcoming homelessness.

According to All Home King County’s 2018 Count Us In report, there were an estimated 12,000 people experiencing homelessness in King County on January 26, 2018. Though Greg has faced many obstacles in his journey out of homelessness, he continues to fight for the needs of the thousands still struggling.

Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 500 words or less.

More in News

King County Courthouse adjacent to City Hall Park (courtesy of City of Seattle)
County council votes to take dangerous park out of Seattle’s hands

City Hall Park, next to the courthouse in downtown Seattle, has had multiple reports of crime.

stock image
Health care workers call on state’s hospitals to help mitigate staffing crisis

Health care workers unions claim hospitals have the resources to fix the issue.

The Buckley community had a blast last Friday when the homecoming parade, including Queen Makenzie Baker and King Aiden Bartlett, marched down Main Street. However, this year was a bit difference, as the dance was organized privately and was held in Enumclaw. Photos by Ray Miller-Still
Hornets make it happen

From the Main Street parade to a dance that nearly wasn’t, Buckley’s Homecoming was one to remember

Buckley candidates make their pitches to voters

With less than two weeks left before election day, all candidates for… Continue reading

MultiCare Auburn Medical Center. File photo
Do you need to pay for your COVID hospital stay?

Washington state law requires hospitals to provide free care for certain income brackets.

King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn at the Mount Peak Fire Lookout tower. Courtesy photo
Councilmember Reagan Dunn celebrates ceremonial opening of Mt. Peak Fire Lookout

The tower is now open to the public after five years of planning.

File image
Former Buckley man faces at least 10 years after conviction for trying to entice a child

Case hinged on whether Taylor Matson was entrapped or had “a guilty mind” to abuse a child.

Image courtesy Public Health Insider
Flu vaccine offers best defense for people, healthcare system this season

People with underlying health conditions should be especially careful this flu season.

Crews removed the old culvert Pussyfoot Creek went through under SR 164 east of Auburn, then built a new natural creek bed. Removing the culvert opens up about 9.3 miles of habitat for coho salmon, steelhead and coastal cutthroat trout. Photo courtesy DOT
SR 164 open near Amphitheater; crews still finishing up work in the area

The highway between Auburn and Enumclaw has reopened, but expect traffic for now

Most Read