A prominent and growing body of research shows that health outcomes improve for people who have access to stable and affordable housing.
Better management of chronic diseases, leading to reduced costs of medical care and better health outcomes, become possible with stable housing. Hospitals and taxpayers pay the ultimate financial price for the failure to manage acute and chronic healthcare effectively. 1, 2 When housed, formerly homeless persons thrive and are able to manage chronic health issues like diabetes, mental illness, and asthma. There is a growing opportunity nationally and in Minnesota to align housing strategies with the health sector as a proven way to better address social determinants of health. Leaders from both fields are better motivated to coordinate and expand resources.
1 Sadowski, et al. Effect of a Housing and Case Management Program on Emergency Department Visits and Hospitalizations Among Chronically Ill Homeless Adults. Journal of the American Medical Association: May 6, 2009.
2 Matthew Desmond & Sandel, Megan. Investing in Housing for Health Improves Both Mission and Margin for Health Care. Journal of the American Medical Association: December 19, 2017.
Goals of the GMHF Health and Housing Initiative:
In support of better health outcomes and stable homes for Minnesota’s more vulnerable residents, GMHF is convening health and housing leaders to foster effective health and housing partnerships and better coordinate investments.
Activities of the new Minnesota Health & Housing initiative will include:
- Establishment of a Community of Practice: Engagement of state-wide leaders in the health and housing fields in periodic sharing of knowledge and best practices to identify opportunities for cross sector collaboration on projects, programs, and systems change.
- Support the Creation of Replicable Projects and Programs: Through targeted funding and technical assistance, foster the development of projects that will provide stable housing with improved healthcare.
- Creation of a Health & Housing Investment Fund: Work with cross sector leaders to develop a health and housing investment fund to support unique affordable housing models that improve health outcomes.
- Collaboration on Public Policy Advances: Work cross sector to improve policies at the state and local level that will effectively enable housing and health services to be aligned to improve health and reduce system costs.
- Research and Development of Best Practices: Research and document best practices and publish findings from health & housing projects and programs.
Why Health & Housing Work is Important Now:
There are unique conditions that make this the right time to focus on Health and Housing, including:
- Escalating Health Care Costs and Urgent Needs for Improved Health Outcomes
- A Continuing Housing Shortage and Increasing Homelessness Statewide
- National Trends of Collaboration by Health and Housing Organizations
- Greater Awareness of the Potential for Alignment of Health and Housing Resources and Systems
Links to Key Health & Housing Research and Articles:
We recommend the following articles as good resources for those interested in this topic and those wishing to join the initiative.
Health Care: A Cure for Housing, by Center for Active Design. (2019). Link to Study. Synopsis: Six case studies of ways that the health sector has stepped into innovative housing solutions, including hospitals as anchor institutions that are addressing community housing needs, and housing development by federally qualified health centers (FQHC’s).
Innovative Models in Health and Housing, by Low Income Investment Fund (LIIF) and Mercy Housing. (2017). Link to Study. Synopsis: Nine case studies on health and housing projects from across the nation, covering permanent supportive housing to systems change and other ways that healthcare connects with housing can be modeled.
Improving Community Health by Strengthening Community Investment, by Hacke, Robin and Deane, Katie Grace. (2017). Sponsored by Center for Community Investment (CCI), Initiative for Responsible Investment and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Download Study. Synopsis: Documents a range of positive impacts that health institutions can have on the social determinants of health, including national examples of the roles.
Health in Housing: Exploring the Intersection Between Housing and Health Care, by Enterprise Community Partners Inc. and Center for Outcomes Research and Education. (2016). Link to Study. Synopsis: Analysis of health services data collected at 145 housing developments in Portland Oregon, documenting the effects of stable housing on differing groups of residents enrolled in Medicaid, residents of permanent supportive housing, seniors those with disabilities, and families.
Affordable Housing Investment: A Guide for Nonprofit Hospitals and Health Systems, by Reynolds, Kathryn , Allen, Eva H. et al. (2019). Urban Institute. Link to Study. Synopsis: Guidance and analysis on how the health sector can effectively participate in addressing housing needs for improved health outcomes and lower costs.
Emerging Strategies for Integrating Health and Housing, by Scally, Corianne Payton, Waxman, Elaine, et al. (2017). Urban Institute. Link to Study. Six case studies on bridging the silos of health and housing.
Housing and Health Partners Can Work Together to Close the Affordability Gap, by Bailey, Peggy. (2020). Link to Study. Synopsis: Provides well-documented links between housing and health to make a strong case for the multiple ways the lack of housing is affecting health and how housing production can be helped but not broadly met from the health sector alone.
Addressing Health Equity through Health and Housing Partnerships, by Corporation for Supportive Housing and National Health Care for the Homeless Council. (2019). Link to Study. Synopsis: Describes the prevalence of health inequities and describes why and how to make addressing health disparities the heart of collaborative efforts among the health and housing sectors.
Health Outcomes and Data Measures: A Quick Guide for Health Center and Housing Partnerships, by Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH). (2018). Link to Study. Synopsis: Addresses how impact outcomes is a research challenge, but necessary to motivate potential partners to collaborate, and outlines guidelines for what data to collect to document the impact on health outcomes.
History of GMHF’s Involvement in Healthy Housing:
Minnesota Green Communities
In 2005, Greater Minnesota Housing Fund launched Minnesota Green Communities, a collaborative partnership between GMHF, the Family Housing Fund, and Enterprise. The partnership became a national model and resulted in the largest green building program in Minnesota.
Greater Minnesota Housing Fund and its Minnesota Green Communities partners have successfully integrated Green Communities criteria into affordable housing building and design standards statewide.