The Center for Active Design (CfAD), a nonprofit organization that uses design to foster healthy and engaged communities, has released a new publication promoting the link between affordable housing and health. In Healthcare: A Cure for Housing, CfAD outlines 10 best practices for affordable housing investment. The report draws on the experiences of hospitals and health systems that have invested in affordable housing as a way to improve public health outcomes in their communities.
With research showing that access to affordable housing leads to reductions in important measures like health expenditures and emergency room visits, health systems are increasingly looking beyond their own walls to help address some of the social determinants of health in their communities. This means not only providing more affordable housing, but also ensuring that the housing itself promotes good health. The 10 best practices outlined in this report reflect lessons learned by healthcare industry leaders as they venture into social investing through housing development. Best practices featured include starting small, engaging local partners, responding to community needs and connecting to broader organizational goals, as well as more technical guidance, like establishing a subsidiary development arm. The guide explores each best practice in depth, providing practical step-by-step advice as well as examples of real-world success stories.To show readers how affordable housing investment has worked for health care systems, the report includes six detailed case studies that explain how health systems throughout the country became involved in affordable housing, how the work linked to their other priorities, how they carried out their early projects, and their future plans. One case study tells the story of ProMedica, which is partnering with LISC in Toledo, Ohio on a number of fronts, including affordable housing, healthy food access and financial stability initiatives.