Place matters when it comes to the social determinants of health. People who live, work, and play in places with affordable quality housing, excellent schools, abundant parks, clean air and water, and other conditions necessary for health live longer and healthier lives than their counterparts in nearby communities who lack these conditions.
Hospitals and health systems have the opportunity to be game-changing participants in efforts to improve conditions in the places they serve. One way they can do this is through investing upstream in the social determinants, harnessing their array of assets—including financial resources, land, and expertise—to create more equitable, sustainable, and healthy communities. Accelerating Investments for Healthy Communities (AIHC, 2018-21) helped six pioneering hospitals and health systems deepen their investment in affordable housing and advance policies and practices that foster equitable housing solutions.
About the Program
Over the course of three years, including the first 15 months of the COVID-19 pandemic, the participating health systems helped to advance affordable housing not only by investing capital, making grants and guarantees, and offering surplus land, but also by convening local partners and leveraging their skills and relationships to advocate for affordable housing policies and funding.
Specific activities ranged from expanding investment in affordable rental and homeownership unites to a second neighborhood near the hospital, anchoring a housing preservation working group, and working to prevent pandemic evictions and foreclosures, to helping activate a dormant county Right of First Refusal policy and creating a framework for prioritizing housing projects that advance racial equity. The teams of local implementation partners they assembled to clarify local housing priorities, identify investment pipelines, and move projects included community organizations, foundations, Community Development Financial Institutions, non-profit developers, and advocacy groups.
Overall, the six systems deployed nearly $20 million of their resources to make loans and grants for affordable housing and:
- Secured $20 million in government funding (with more on the way)
- Directly supported development or preservation of 1000+ affordable homes representing over $330 million in development costs
- Triggered $10 million in loans and grants by national foundations
- Bon Secours Mercy Health (Baltimore, MD and Cincinnati, OH)
- Boston Medical Center (Boston, MA)
- CommonSpirit Health (San Bernardino, CA)
- Kaiser Permanente (Prince George's and Montgomery Counties, MD)
- Nationwide Children's Hospital (Columbus, OH)
- UPMC Health Plan (Pittsburgh, PA)