The javascript used on this site for creative design effects is not supported by your browser. Please note that this will not affect access to the content on this web site.
Skip Navigation
H H S Department of Health and Human Services
Health Resources and Services Administration
Primary Care: The Health Center Program

A-Z Index  |  Questions? 

  • Print this
  • Email this

Special Populations

Health centers are community-based and patient-directed organizations that serve populations with limited access to health care. 

Some health centers also receive specific funding to focus on certain special populations:

  • individuals and families experiencing homelessness
  • agricultural workers and dependents
  • those living in public housing
  • Native Hawaiians

In 2012, health centers served more than 1.1 million individuals experiencing homelessness; over 900,000 agricultural workers and their families; approximately 220,000 residents of public housing; and 6,600 patients within the Native Hawaiian Health Care Systems (NHHCS) Program. 

Health Care for the Homeless Program

Homelessness continues to be a pervasive problem throughout the U.S., affecting rural as well as urban and suburban communities. According to a recent national survey, it is estimated that 1.6 million people are homeless on any given night.

In 2012, HRSA-funded health centers served more than 1.1 million persons experiencing homelessness. The Health Care for the Homeless Program is a major source of care for homeless persons in the United States, serving patients that live on the street, in shelters, or in transitional housing.

Health Care for the Homeless grantees recognize the complex needs of homeless persons and strive to provide a coordinated, comprehensive approach to health care including substance abuse and mental health services.

Migrant Health Centers

In 2012, HRSA-funded health centers served over 900,000 agricultural workers and their families. It is estimated that HRSA-funded health center programs serve approximately one-third of migratory and seasonal agricultural workers in the United States.

The Migrant Health Center program provides support to health centers to deliver comprehensive, high quality, culturally-competent preventive and primary health services to migratory and seasonal agricultural workers and their families with a particular focus on the occupational health and safety needs of this population.

The National Advisory Council on Migrant Health regularly advises, consults with, and makes recommendations to the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the HRSA Administrator on health issues affecting migratory and seasonal agricultural workers.

Public Housing Primary Care Health Centers

The Public Housing Primary Care Program provides residents of public housing with increased access to comprehensive primary health care services through the direct provision of health promotion, disease prevention, and primary health care services. Services are provided on the premises of public housing developments or at other locations immediately accessible to residents. In 2012, HRSA-funded health centers served approximately 220,000 residents of public housing.

Native Hawaiians

The Native Hawaiian Health Care Systems Program, funded within the Health Center Program appropriation, improves the health status of Native Hawaiians by making health education, health promotion, and disease prevention services available through the support of the Native Hawaiian Health Care System.

Native Hawaiians face cultural, financial, social, and geographic barriers that prevent them from utilizing existing health services. In addition, health services are often unavailable in the community.

The Native Hawaiian Health Care System use a combination of outreach, referral, and linkage mechanisms to provide or arrange services. Services provided include nutrition programs, screening and control of hypertension and diabetes, immunizations, and basic primary care services. In 2012, NHHCS provided medical and enabling encounters to more than 6,600 people. 

The Native Hawaiian Health Care Program also supports a health professions scholarship program for Native Hawaiians, the Native Hawaiian Health Scholarship Program, and administrative costs for Papa Ola Lokahi, an organization that coordinates and assists health care programs provided to Native Hawaiians.