The promise of healthcare investing in affordable housing

In previous posts (available here and here), I have detailed two of the four elements of UnitedHealthcare Community & State’s multi-pronged approach to re-envisioning the way we engage with states and community-based organizations to address the complex needs of those we all serve. Partnerships and data play important roles in how we are supporting the push to integrate care between the health care, human services, and housing sectors. Another critical element in that work is financial investments.

Given my background in housing, health care, and impact investing, I know firsthand the critically important role that access to safe, affordable housing plays in the health and wellness of our members. I am also keenly aware of the affordable housing shortages we have in nearly every community across the country, an issue now exacerbated and elevated with the arrival of COVID-19.  Expanding the supply of affordable housing, along with greater integration of housing and health care, is needed to better address the needs of vulnerable populations and improve their health outcomes.   

Employing an array of strategies, UnitedHealth Group has made investments to expand the supply of affordable housing and to support community-based organizations. Most recently, UnitedHealth Group announced an investment, in conjunction with the National Affordable Housing Trust (NAHT) and Stewards of Affordable Housing for the Future (SAHF), of $100 million in a Health & Housing Fund to create more than 1,000 new affordable housing units across numerous states and Washington, DC. In addition to the housing investment, we are providing a $1 million grant investment to support wrap-around services and other supports focused on improving the health of residents. Additionally, we are working with SAHF to develop outcomes tracking metrics to measure and analyze the impact housing has on health outcomes for residents.

In collaboration with community-based organizations like Volunteers of America and National Church Residences, this investment will support the development or rehabilitation of affordable housing units designed specifically for very low income seniors and families. The housing developments will also have services provided onsite or located near needed resources such as public transportation and health clinics. By bringing services onsite and closer to the residents, the goal is to decrease access barriers, increase the opportunity to meet their medical and social needs, and ultimately improve their health outcomes.

Simply, housing equals health care. Expanding housing access is critical and it is also important to support access to services that help an individual sustain their housing and address their health needs and other social barriers. Through this investment, which brings UnitedHealthcare’s total investment in affordable housing to $500 million, we are doing both, and continuing our efforts to support the integration of housing and health care to better address the health needs of individuals, families, and communities.

Read more from Andy McMahon

$500 Million in Affordable Housing Investments

83 communities in 19 states resulting in over 4,670 new, affordable homes

*Note: Data reflects investments currently under construction or completed as of June 2020

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