In June, after three and a half years, participants in CCI’s Accelerating Investments for Healthy Communities (AIHC) initiative celebrated their accomplishments as the initiative came to an end. AIHC was designed to help participating hospitals and health systems deepen their investments in affordable housing and advance policies and practices that foster equitable solutions. The initiative showed not only what hospitals can accomplish when they focus on investing upstream in social determinants of health, but also how critical that work is today, as the global COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of housing to health and the deep inequities that have been baked into our housing system over the last century.
Over the course of the initiative, six pioneering health systems—Boston Medical Center, Bon Secours Mercy, CommonSpirit, Kaiser Permanente, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, and UPMC—deployed $15.4 million of loans and grants for affordable housing that:
- Directly supports development or preservation of over 1,000 affordable homes
- Triggers $10 million in loans and grants by national foundations
- Leverages over $20 million in additional grants and impact investments to date
- Fills gaps in projects that cost over $330 million in total development costs
The roles AIHC participants played in their local housing investment ecosystems were equally impressive. They assembled cross-sector teams; developed new community relationships; clarified housing priorities; identified investment pipelines; and moved a raft of affordable housing development and preservation projects and policies in their communities. Together with their community partners, teams expanded their investments in affordable rental and homeownership units to new geographies, helped activate a dormant county housing policy, anchored an affordable housing preservation group, worked to prevent pandemic evictions and foreclosures, and are creating a framework for ensuring that housing projects advance racial equity.
The impacts of these accomplishments will play out in AIHC’s communities for years and decades to come. They will also have an immediate impact on the field of hospital community investment, as CCI shares what we and the participating teams learned from AIHC and uses those lessons to continue to support hospitals and health systems pursuing upstream investment in the social determinants of health.
We have already begun to publish what we learned:
- Why Pioneering Institutions Are Investing Upstream to Improve Community Health explores the diversity of hospital motivations for engaging in community investment, which go well beyond return on investment.
- Investing in Community Health: A Toolkit for Hospitals¸ co-created with the Catholic Health Association, provides a comprehensive introduction to community investment for hospital leaders, staff, and board members, along with a clear set of steps for getting started.
- Investing Upstream for Community Health Equity: Getting Started outlines the critical elements of a successful hospital community investment strategy.
Additional upcoming publications include an update of Why Pioneering Health Institutions Are Investing Upstream to Improve Community Health, the paper that jumpstarted our hospital programming, which will feature our experiences with AIHC and over 60 interviews with hospitals engaged in community investment along with other experts in the field; a video about AIHC; and more.
We are also sharing our learnings directly with hospital and health system leaders and staff through a variety of avenues, from webinars and speaking engagements to a virtual summit in September.
On May 26, senior leaders from 28 hospitals and health systems across the country attended CCI’s virtual roundtable, "Investing Upstream for Community Health Equity: Lessons from CEOs.” Dr. Rich Besser, President and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation which funded AIHC, discussed the importance of housing to community health, the invaluable role hospitals can play in catalyzing local investment systems to get to the root causes of housing challenges and inequities, and how hospital CEOs are essential to mobilizing their institutions. CCI Executive Director Robin Hacke interviewed AIHC participants Tim Robinson, CEO of Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, and Kate Walsh, CEO of Boston Medical Center, about the investment journeys of their respective institutions and the lessons they have learned as their hospitals became two of the most active in the field.
CCI invited the institutions that attended the roundtable to nominate cross-department teams to participate in a three-month program of customized coaching and peer networking as they design community investment strategies. Eight institutions are participating in Investing Upstream for Community Health Equity: Setting the Course, which begins June 30.
In September, CCI and AIHC participant Nationwide Children’s Hospital are co-sponsoring “From Roadmap to Reality: Implementation Strategies for Upstream Investments in Community Health,” a virtual national conference.
“From Roadmap to Reality” will bring together some of the nation’s most innovative pioneers on the front lines of addressing social determinants of health for two half days of virtual discussions on September 22 and 23. The Summit will offer insights and networking for individuals and teams from hospitals and health systems, community development corporations, CDFIs, banks and lenders, community foundations, and government agencies. Participants will come away with concrete strategies and next steps for implementing community investment programs that strengthen the social determinants. To receive updates on “From Roadmap to Reality,” sign up here. We look forward to keeping you abreast of further publications and learning opportunities for and about hospitals engaged in community investment.