"This campaign is about raising awareness that health and housing are linked and it is basic health care that allows success in both," said Parrish in a recent statement.
The numbers of homeless, uninsured and families in poverty have risen nationwide and in Utah, as has the prevalence of chronic diseases such as hypertension, depression and cancer among the vulnerable population, according to the statement.
There are a few health care options for the homeless, but beyond costly visits to hospital emergency rooms where symptoms are briefly treated underlying causes are often not addressed.
The Fourth Street Clinic offers a host of free basic services, including vaccinations, well-child checks, diagnostic tests and medical treatments.
"It is a valuable service that works to keep the poorest and most vulnerable among us well and moving toward housing," Parrish said.
Jennifer Hyvonen, the clinic's external affairs director, said Thursday that the clinic so far has raised half the money of its $100,000 goal. She cited a variety of reasons for why people should donate to the campaign.
"A homeless person in the United States dies three decades earlier than someone who has a home. This is the same life expectancy as a person living in Afghanistan or Zimbabwe, and the number-one cause of death is from preventable and treatable illnesses," she said. "The good news is that the solutions are at hand with the health care services at Fourth Street Clinic ... it means that homelessness isn't hopeless in Utah."
To donate online to the $100,000 challenge, go to: http://bit.ly/SJNe5W.
About the clinic
Founded in 1988, the Fourth Street Clinic now has a staff of 50 and a volunteer network three times that size. Together they serve 3,800 homeless men, women and children, and its pharmacy annually dispenses 44,400 medications.