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Housing & Health Equity Fellows Program — A Minnesota Healthcare Learning Cohort:
Invitation to Apply
Advancing Investment in Housing & Health Equity in Minnesota
Greater Minnesota Housing Fund, Center for Community Investment, and Minnesota Housing invite interested professionals and leaders working at health plans, systems, and hospitals to join a new Minnesota Housing & Health Equity Learning Cohort. Healthcare institutions interested in investing upstream in social determinants of health can identify and nominate a small team of cross-departmental staff from their own organizations to participate in the program.
The proposed team (the “Fellows Team”) would have a vision, goal, or strategy in mind that can be further developed through the process, tools, and resources provided by the Learning Cohort facilitators. Each team would be led through a process that can improve their institutions’ impact on community health. The “Housing & Health Equity” approach combines economic and social returns, a double bottom-line win for any healthcare institution.
The benefits and expectations of joining this cohort are outlined below. Cohort members will receive training, coaching, technical assistance and access to resources and tools that can help them analyze, advance, and invest in strategies and/or projects that address social determinants of health, such as affordable housing. (Examples might include fostering a pipeline of workforce housing serving employees and the community, creating a portfolio of program related investments targeting social determinants of health outcomes, advancing a specific project including respite care to help with emergency room back-ups, or creating and investment policy statement or portfolio investment strategy to guide future investments balancing social, health, and economic returns.
Healthcare leaders selected will need to demonstrate the following through the application process:
- Commitment by senior leadership of the healthcare institution signaling institutional interest in investment opportunities that improve community health through preservation or production of affordable housing or other social determinants of health.
- Identification of a small team of at least three and up to six cross-departmental members. Departments not limited to but might include finance or treasury, population health, government or community affairs, facilities planning & development, or community benefit/ engagement.
- Capacity and influence of the team to develop and implement an organizational strategy or plan that advances investments in opportunities that connect health, housing, and racial equity or a specific current project that can be accelerated and advanced through participation in this cohort.
- Commitment to participate fully in a learning community with other healthcare organizations and with other invited guests from the housing, community development, and equity fields.
- Articulation of a planned result that includes shifting investment strategy and resources toward upstream solutions to community health, racial equity, and affordable housing.
All applications will be reviewed, and selections will be determined by a combined panel of national and local leaders affiliated with the core partners. We anticipate selecting a cohort of six to eight teams considering geographic diversity and a mix of strategies that offer rich peer learning opportunities.
Key Dates are as follows:
- Now through January 20th, 2023 – Communicate with GMHF an expression of interest to pursue the Housing & Health Equity Learning Cohort application. Contact Eric Muschler at email@example.com or call 612-308-9040 to discuss application submission.
- December 1, 2022 – Release of Formal Application. A simple electronic application form.
- January 27th, 2023 – Applications are due.
- February 24th, 2023 – Announcement of the Minnesota Housing & Health Equity Learning Cohort
The H&HE Learning Cohort will gather six times 2023 on the schedule outlined below (4 in-person opportunities and two virtual sessions). The final in-person gathering will celebrate and share project progress and learnings among the fellows and partners. Further details on time and place are forthcoming in the new year:
Time and Commitment; Learning Cohort Fellows Meeting Schedule:
- March 28-29, 2023 – First in-person convening – A Day and a half.
- Accelerating Health Equity Conference May 16-18 (w/ a De-Brief Lunch Meeting Thursday).
- June 21st, 2023 – Half day virtual convening on Zoom.
- August 1-2, 2023 – In person day and a half meeting.
- October 12th, 2023 – Half day virtual convening on Zoom.
- November 30, 2023 – Final Presentation and Celebration – In person gathering.
Note: Participants will be expected to complete assignments between sessions and to participate in individualized team coaching that will advance the work and support participants.
The Benefits of Participation: Building Knowledge, Skills, and Impact
This Minnesota Healthcare Learning Cohort offers multiple networked relationships, expertise, and support to advance individual knowledge and capacity as well as an institutional commitment to advance or accelerate investment in upstream social determinants of health, particularly affordable housing. Benefits to participation include:
- Bringing together like-minded healthcare leaders in a learning cohort and safe space to explore opportunities and innovation around expanding investments in upstream solutions in housing and health equity.
- Access to Center for Community Investment and GMHF training & technical assistance on linking housing, health equity, and safe, impactful investments in housing & community development.
- Coaching on capital investment related to health equity, capital absorption, advancing practice inside an organization, deal analysis, asset management. Capital absorption is a systemic approach to fostering investment in healthy communities.
- Technical Assistance on project specific opportunities related to community engagement, market and deal analysis, equitable development, community partnerships, and leveraging private and governmental sources that align to advance affordable housing.
- Access to financing and tools available through GMHF and Minnesota Housing to advance plans and projects or develop a pipeline of projects.
- Matchmaking and connecting housing, services, and community-based institutions with healthcare institutions via the well-networked community development field in Minnesota.
Background: How We Got Here!
In the wake of COVID and the racial reckoning following the murder of George Floyd, hospitals and health systems around Minnesota and across the U.S. have shown increasing interest and actions to address social determinants of health, in particular, the connection between housing and health equity has become a priority. According to a 2019 report from American Health Association: “Given the inextricable link between affordable, quality housing and good health, housing is one area that hospitals and health systems are starting to focus on more and more.” The linked paper outlines the first national initiative to assemble healthcare partners and explore and accelerate upstream investment activities by healthcare institutions.
The Accelerating Investments for Health Communities Initiative was led by Center for Community Investment. Center for Community Investment, thanks to this work, is assisting hospitals and health systems around the country “to deepen their investment in affordable housing, and advance policies and practices that foster equitable housing solutions.” CCI finds that “health institutions have the potential to be hugely valuable actors in the community investment system,” although “adoption of an investment strategy by health institutions is still at an early stage.” Greater Minnesota Housing Fund’s Housing & Health Equity initiative is the first and only state-focused effort to convene a learning cohort modeled after the national experience.
Greater Minnesota Housing Fund (GMHF) has over 25 years of experience in connecting affordable housing and health outcomes through financing developments that have created over 18,000 units of affordable housing and 3,600 units of either permanent supportive housing (PSH) or services-enriched housing (representing about 20% of all housing financed by GMHF).
GMHF has collaborated with communities, employers, government, developers, and service providers to create housing opportunities in every size and type of community in Minnesota (all eighty-seven counties). GMHF is also a certified Community Development Finance Institution (CDFI) that finances affordable housing with products such as low-cost loan capital, equity, tax credits, pre-development, construction, and other financing tools to advance the full continuum of housing types including community development activities and mixed-use development. GMHF works with impact investors to manage funds, diversify investment, provide advisory services, and partner to advance investor goals to serve mission and financial return expectations. Building on this work, GMHF created the Housing & Health Equity Initiative in 2021 to adapt to changing circumstances and create new partnerships across healthcare and housing to advance fields of practice in addressing social determinants of health.
Another partner in this effort is Minnesota Housing, the state’s housing finance agency. For more than 50 years, they have worked to provide access to safe, decent, and affordable housing to build stronger communities across the state. In 2021, they distributed $1.92 billion in resources and served more than 93,504 households. Minnesota Housing views housing as the foundation for success. Says Minnesota Housing Commissioner Jennifer Ho, “Healthcare institutions can be transformative partners when paired with housing. Together we can address the intertwined issues of housing, health and equity by working across silos and fostering innovation.”
Through the Housing & Health Equity Initiative we aim to support healthcare leaders and partners in advancing their mission and effectiveness. We will explore innovative approaches, compelling models, and new partnerships that align housing, health, and equity work in Minnesota.