September 22, 2016

Cross-sector Collaboration: Health and Housing Sectors Join Hands

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Faubourg Lafitte in New Orleans is a highly connected mixed-income community, featuring a 2.6 mile linear park and within walking distance to schools, streetcar and bus lines, and a community clinic. Enterprise and partners created the community after Hurricane Katrina destroyed a dilapidated public housing site slated for demolition.
Photo: Faubourg Lafitte in New Orleans is a highly connected mixed-income community, featuring a 2.6 mile linear park and within walking distance to schools, streetcar and bus lines, and a community clinic. Enterprise and partners created the community after Hurricane Katrina destroyed a dilapidated public housing site slated for demolition.

The effects of living in an unaffordable, poor-quality or disconnected home stretch far beyond the housing market. In the struggle to make ends meet, the most vulnerable families make the deepest cuts, spending nearly 40 percent less on food, 50 percent less on clothing and health care, and 30 percent less on insurance and retirement savings than families living in a home they can afford.

These issues are not just housing issues, but broad social challenges that require collective action. Enterprise is cultivating strong partnerships between health care providers and housing providers based on a mutual goal to address the health issues and inequities facing low-income people and people of color using affordable housing as an intervention strategy. To support these efforts, we recently formed a Health Advisory Council composed of nationally recognized experts across the health care sector to inform our work.

Bridging Disciplines to Advance Community Health and Well-being

Our commitment to cross-sector collaboration catalyzes a new level of partnership for Enterprise to build the necessary bridge between disciplines to advance the health and well-being of the communities we serve.

Enterprise is not just focused on reducing health inequities by embedding health-based decision making in the affordable housing industry. We’re also striving to motivate health insurers, providers and funders to lower health care costs and improve health outcomes through housing-based solutions for low-income health care consumers, and develop ways to co-invest in communities.

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Enterprise partnered with Bon Secours Baltimore Health System to help create the newly opened Bon Secours Gibbons Apartments. Part of a master-planned, mixed-use development, the property features healthy, green affordable homes across from Saint Agnes Hospital and access to public transit, healthy food options and community recreation.

To catalyze greater support at this intersection of housing and health, we must help affordable housing providers and the health care sector leverage their collective efforts to improve health and well-being.

Health Care Systems as Anchor Institutions

Health care systems are increasingly embracing their roles as anchor institutions to address the social, economic and environmental conditions that contribute to poor health outcomes. A number of health care systems have invested in affordable housing as a means of stabilizing neighborhood conditions, providing quality workforce housing, promoting community wealth-building, and lowering the health care costs of their frequently admitted patients.

The experience of these early adopters, as well as pressures on the health care sector to achieve the triple aim—improving health, enhancing the patient experience and reducing the per capita cost of health care—suggest that we have reached a tipping point. Enterprise is committed to ensuring that both the housing and health sectors remain poised to leverage this critical juncture.