Jenny Owens

Jenny Owens
Location: Baltimore, Maryland Cohort Start Year: 2019 Project Topics: Economic Stability, Health Care Access, Health Care Quality, Public Policy, Public, Population and Community Health, Social Sector/Non-Profit Populations Served: Adolescents (12-20 years), Adults (21-64 years), African-American/Black, Asian/Asian American, At-Risk/Vulnerable Populations, Children (6-11 years), Children and Families, Hispanic/Latino/Latinx, Incarcerated or Formerly Incarcerated Populations, LGBTQ+ Communities, Low-Income Communities, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders (NHPI), Native/Tribal/Indigenous People, Older Adults (65+), Puerto Rico and other U.S. Territories, Rural Communities, Southwest Asian and/or North African (SWANA), Young Children (0-5 years)
Executive Director and Founder
Hosts for Humanity


Nearly a quarter million people need to travel out of state each year for medical care. Not well documented, many of these medical nomads are separated from their communities and struggle with added costs associated with transportation, lodging, and food on top of mounting medical expenses. Jenny Owens didn’t know any of this until she found herself as a caregiver to a newborn son with a rare and serious health condition.

Committed to serve, Jenny recruited a handful of volunteers to host patients and their families traveling for medical care in spare bedrooms. Fast forward five years and the passion project, now managed under the name Hosts for Humanity, has organized 1,400 nights of medical housing for nearly 100 people in Baltimore, saving patients and their families over $130,000 in comparable housing costs.

To scale its impact, Hosts for Humanity is developing a website and app for hosts and caregivers to connect online. Jenny seeks to use her strategic initiative to scale to two other cities with strong academic medical institutions—St. Louis and Bethesda, Md.-Washington, D.C. Ideal partners to continue this work are healthcare systems and citizens with big hearts and spare bedrooms.

After Dr. Jenny Owens’ son was born with a rare health condition, she quickly discovered how fortunate they were to live in Baltimore, home to some of the best hospitals in the world. While her son underwent life-saving treatment, Jenny ran into many families who traveled great distances to gain access to healthcare. She learned that, struggling with the costs of housing on top of medical bills, they were stressed, isolated, and felt displaced from their communities. This experience was a painful illumination of how lack of housing could easily mean lack of healthcare. Dr. Owens now runs Hosts for Humanity—a social venture that provides housing in people’s spare bedrooms for families traveling for medical care. In addition, she’s on the faculty and an assistant dean at the University of Maryland Graduate School, providing leadership for a portfolio of health-focused online degrees and running the university’s student innovation hub. Jenny believes an environment designed to support health is a human right. She wants to create a stronger housing infrastructure for families traveling for medical care, and to enhance health and well-being through social interaction and connectivity. She hopes that, in addition to supporting families financially and emotionally, her work will encourage people to have faith in other people.



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