by Martha Fedorowicz: For More Info, Go Here…
In May 2018, Kaiser Permanente, the largest private integrated care system in the US, announced that it would invest $200 million through its Thriving Communities Fund to address the affordable housing crisis in California’s Bay Area. Then in 2019, Kaiser announced that it used the fund to purchase an apartment building in a diverse but quickly gentrifying neighborhood in Oakland with the express purpose of making repairs and upgrades to improve health in the building and to ensure affordability to current residents. If Kaiser wanted to improve health, why wouldn’t it focus solely on housing upgrades, which research shows can produce positive health outcomes (PDF)? Why would it include maintaining affordability in its mandate?
Although we’ve known that poor housing quality can have negative impacts on a person’s health, a growing body of evidence also ties housing unaffordability to negative health outcomes. A few hospitals and health systems are reorienting their investments around this new evidence by funding affordable housing, hoping to improve outcomes of the people and communities they serve.
While Kaiser’s large housing affordability investments may seem far removed from its health focus, it is part of a growing movement by hospitals, health systems, and other anchor institutions to invest in improving social determinants of health—like housing and neighborhoods—by rehabilitating housing and by increasing the supply of below-market rents.