Housing partnership integrates affordable housing with health services

In 2020, UnitedHealth Group established a $100 million Health and Housing Fund in partnership with Stewards of Affordable Housing for the Future (SAHF) and the National Affordable Housing Trust.

Since then, we’ve worked closely with SAHF to develop affordable housing across the country. SAHF is a nonprofit comprised of 13 affordable housing developers that own nearly 150,000 affordable rental homes across the nation. With a shared vision for improving health through housing, we have partnered with them to build 1,000 affordable homes across 13 communities.

Sharpening our focus on housing investments

Our work with SAHF will support efforts to integrate health and housing in four distinct ways:

  1. All housing developments will house underserved populations. This includes individuals with disabilities, individuals experiencing homelessness, very low-income seniors and very low-income families.
  2. Every development will connect housing with health and social services. Examples include having a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) co-located in the affordable housing, on-site service coordinators, or a close, formal relationship with a nearby FQHC.
  3. We are investing $1 million in seed funding for services and supports. In developing the fund, we set aside seed money to support each site’s efforts to integrate health services into the housing they are developing.
  4. We are tracking health and well-being outcomes. Developers will report on resident-specific outcomes, including physical health, mental health, health care access and food insecurity. SAHF will be producing annual reports on these outcomes.

Additionally, it should be noted that none of these housing units will prioritize or be set aside for our members. These are plan-agnostic investments for expanding the availability of affordable housing in the broader communities in which we serve.

Examples of integrating health services with housing

Our grants are used in different ways to provide health services to residents. Morning Star, a property that serves seniors in Texas, is using a $20K+ to support a multi-year on-site food pantry program. The pantry will offer healthy food options and nutrition programs to promote health and social connectivity.

Oklahoma’s Bent Oak Village, which also serves seniors, is using a $64K four-year grant to establish a community health worker program. This will connect residents with primary care and wellness programs, including three peer resident health ambassadors.

Leveraging and expanding our partnerships

As we look for new ways to integrate health and housing to improve population health, we are partnering closely with the UnitedHealth Group treasury team and Optum Bank. We continue to identify new partnerships and opportunities to invest in affordable housing and strengthen the communities we serve.

By working with and investing in partners like SAHF that align with our organizational mission and vision, we can improve health outcomes on a larger scale. We can’t thank the team at SAHF and their development partners enough for all they’ve done to help provide housing to those who need it. We can’t wait to move onward in our partnership.

Read more from Andy McMahon and Eleanor Beaber

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