Amanda Abrams for Shelterforce:
The shift has been unmistakable: health care organizations are increasingly focusing on upstream factors that affect their patients’ health. To some degree, that shift is the result of state and federal legislation, particularly the Affordable Care Act, which regulates nonprofit hospitals’ preventive care activities. But it’s also just common sense. Addressing patients’ big-picture realities—that is, the social determinants of health like housing, job creation, and food security—can have deep impacts on their day-to-day health and the interventions that are needed.
That new mindset has been a boon to many community development organizations, whose target populations—low-income groups—often tend to be frequent hospital users. The result has been a wide range of collaborations between community development groups and health care institutions that have sprung up around the country. In many cases, the partners have jointly determined that the community’s health problems could be mitigated through the provision of safe, healthy, affordable housing, often making housing development and rehab a front-and-center priority.
It’s a win-win situation: health care institutions save money as patients’ chronic conditions and repeat visits are reduced, while community development groups locate new sources of funding that can further their missions.