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Announcing: Health Begins with Home

Written by Enterprise Community Partners on February 5, 2019

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The new initiative from Enterprise Community Partners ties health with housing.

This article originally appeared on Enterprise’s blog on January 24, 2019. The Build Healthy Places Network is helping Enterprise to build healthcare partnerships with this initiative.

Today, Enterprise Community Partners launched Health Begins with Home, embarking on the next frontier of a deepening commitment to improving the health and well-being of people and communities through the power of home.

Through this new national initiative, Enterprise will put $250 million to work over five years to promote health as a top priority in the development and preservation of affordable homes and to elevate homes as an essential tool for improving resident and community health.

Evidence links poorly constructed, maintained and located housing to a range of health conditions, including asthma, lead poisoning and mental health issues, as well as increased emergency room visits and in-patient hospitalizations. In addition, families who struggle to make rent, move frequently or experience homelessness face greater risk of adverse health outcomes.

“Through Health Begins with Home, we’re fulfilling the potential of homes to improve the health of people and of entire communities,” said Enterprise Community Partners President Laurel Blatchford.

Our unique approach prioritizes community engagement and centers on cross-sector partnerships among a wide array of critical participants, including: community development organizations, health systems, health insurers, housing developers, policymakers, public health associations, foundations and social impact investors.

The initiative also will benefit from Enterprise’s Health Advisory Council, comprised of nationally recognized experts providing clinical, public health and community development insights.

“By bringing together the health and housing sectors, Enterprise can be a catalyst for a seismic shift in the industry,” said Brian Rahmer, vice president, Health and Housing, Enterprise.

Through Health Begins with Home, Enterprise will focus on four key areas:

  • Researching ways to leverage the link between good health and a healthy, stable home
  • Awarding grants to 1) help local nonprofits operate housing and community health programs
    and 2) increase partnerships between housing and health care organizations
  • Providing technical assistance to leverage and align resources, use data to strengthen decision making, promote best practices and advance smart policies
  • Connecting capital from health care organizations, institutional investors and social impact funds to develop and preserve healthy, well-designed homes that are affordable

Health Begins with Homes launches following the news last week of two new funds announced jointly with Kaiser Permanente. An Enterprise-managed $85 million equity fund will serve California’s Bay Area counties, with half the capital designated to promote health and preserve affordable homes in the city of Oakland. A $100 million national loan fund is open to developers preserving and creating healthy, affordable homes in Kaiser Permanente’s service regions in eight states and the District of Columbia.

The new initiative builds on Enterprise’s work demonstrating that well-designed affordable homes have a positive effect on the social determinants of health. Released in 2004, Enterprise’s Green Communities Criteria introduced the health, economic and environmental benefits of sustainable construction practices to affordable housing. Fifteen years later, said Blatchford, “our Green Communities Criteria have dramatically expanded the development of green and healthy affordable housing.”

Health Begins with Home will draw and build on Enterprise’s health and housing commitment to date, from critical research to important survey tools and design resources.

“Our work with communities and partners is showing us how homes designed with health in mind and located in neighborhoods connected to quality health care, schools, jobs and transit can provide the foundation for better outcomes,” said Enterprise’s Rahmer.

Enterprise’s mission is to create opportunity for low- and moderate-income people through affordable housing in diverse, thriving communities.