In Georgia, demand for affordable and available housing can often exceed supply. The National Low Income Housing Coalition estimates that 24% of all renters in the state have incomes below the federal poverty threshold and there is a shortage of 213,289 rental homes.1
Individuals experiencing these circumstances are more likely to be cost-burdened, spending 30% or more on rent or other housing costs.2 As a result, they may go without other necessities, such as food and health care, and experience housing instability brought about by trouble paying rent, overcrowding, and frequent moves. These experiences may negatively affect physical health and make it harder to access health care.3
Star-C Programs is a nonprofit that works to reduce transiency in affordable housing communities and nearby schools. It partners with landlords who are committed to providing well-maintained, affordable housing for working families, many of whom live near the federal poverty threshold.
UnitedHealthcare is supporting Star-C Programs with a $1 million grant that allows the organization to offer programming within apartment communities throughout the Atlanta metro area. The events, themed as back-to-school celebrations or as fall and spring festivals, will include health screenings and educational components that address social drivers of health (SDOH). SDOH are the conditions in the environments where people are born, live, learn, work, and play that affect a wide range of health, functioning and quality-of-life outcomes and risks.4 According to County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, 80% of a person’s health is affected by what happens outside of a clinical setting.5
Star-C Programs expands upon successful initiatives
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Star-C Programs launched the Star-C Eviction Relief Fund in 2020. The fund grew to include partnerships with approximately 300 landlords who represent 62,000 apartment units serving more than 185,000 people living in affordable apartment communities. The fund raised more than $12 million and assisted 4,200 families with rental payments.
Following this success, Star-C Programs was approached by landlords involved with the relief fund to expand its services to include addressing SDOH.
Star-C Programs anticipates planning 178 events at 80 to 100 affordable apartment communities in the Atlanta metro area. Outcomes for the events will be measured by the number of apartment communities hosting events, residents who live in each community, residents who participate in each event, and the value of the services provided.
The funding from UnitedHealthcare will allow Star-C to focus on SDOH by providing wraparound services during the events, including education, wellness, and food security and eviction relief. In addition, The Star-C Select Initiative will connect families with free and reduced-cost health services, discounts on utilities, and education opportunities to provide stability, improve health status, and strengthen finances.
Working together to improve social drivers of health
In 2022, Star-C Programs and UnitedHealth Group worked together to install Sesame Street Comfy-Cozy reading rooms at three affordable housing communities where Star-C operates free onsite afterschool programs for elementary-aged children. UnitedHealth Group helped renovate and decorate the spaces and provided books, furnishings, and book bags filled with school supplies.
The reading rooms strengthened Star-C’s efforts to improve literacy and educational outcomes for children impacted by COVID-19 learning loss, some of whom are learning English as a second language. The reading rooms reached 876 apartment units in total, encompassing approximately 3,000 residents.
UnitedHealthcare is committed to bringing care beyond the clinic to address SDOH. Our work with Star‑C Programs brings education, services, and health screenings to Atlanta residents where they live to improve whole-person health.
- https://nlihc.org/housing-needs-by-state/georgia Opens in a new window
- https://www.census.gov/library/stories/2023/03/low-income-renters-spent-larger-share-of-income-on-rent.html Opens in a new window
- https://health.gov/healthypeople/priority-areas/social-determinants-health/literature-summaries/housing-instability Opens in a new window
- https://www.cdc.gov/places/social-determinants-of-health-and-places-data/index.html#:~:text=Social%20determinants%20of%20health%20(SDOH)%20are%20the%20conditions%20in%20the,of%2Dlife%20outcomes%20and%20risks. Opens in a new window
- https://www.countyhealthrankings.org/explore-health-rankings/county-health-rankings-model/health-factors Opens in a new window