Smith-Wade-El and Arkoosh visit Refresh Lancaster

HARRISBURG, April 10 – Pennsylvania Department of Human Services Secretary Valerie Arkoosh joined state Rep. Ismail Smith-Wade-El, D-Lancaster, for a tour of Refresh Lancaster’s mobile unit at Union Community Care last Friday.

Refresh Lancaster is a collaboration between Lancaster Emergency Medical Services Association and Lancaster County Homelessness Coalition that offers free weekly showers, hygienic kits, medical care and referrals to social services in a mobile unit at several locations throughout the county.

“In my experience working as an activist in Lancaster, I found that many of the people most in need of social services were nervous about approaching state organizations for help,” Smith-Wade-El said. “I wanted to share with Secretary Arkoosh how Refresh Lancaster is successfully reaching out and building trust with these vulnerable members of our community by serving as a low-barrier entryway to the commonwealth’s extensive network of social and health services.”

Smith-Wade-El and Arkoosh also toured Union Community Care’s new dental unit where the staff stressed dental care as a critical part of health care.

The tour highlighted how managed-care organizations use Medicaid waivers to serve residents in need.

“People who are unhoused experience higher health care spending and poorer long-term outcomes, and approachable, empathetic supports and assistance can be a bridge to stability and a path to a healthier future,” Arkoosh said. “Refresh Lancaster provides these essential services that recognizes the dignity we all deserve, and I’m grateful for our partners who invest in care and support for unhoused Pennsylvanians. Governor Shapiro’s 2024-25 budget seeks to invest an additional $10 million in the Homeless Assistance Program -- our first new investment in more than a decade -- to support more resources for local programs helping unhoused people every day.”

Refresh Lancaster also receives support from Lancaster County Redevelopment Authority, Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health, and United Way of Lancaster County.

Representatives from community partners AmeriHealth Caritas, Union Community Care, the Lancaster County Homelessness Coalition, and Lancaster EMS were also in attendance.