Healthcare sector must invest in housing to improve health of most vulnerable

Mercy Housing Innovative Models in Health and Housing

As Congress grapples with the future of healthcare, politicians, advocates, and others would do well to take a page from a recent report published by Mercy Housing and the Low Income Investment Fund (LIIF), titled “Innovative Models In Health and Housing.”

The report, prepared for the Kresge Foundation and the California Endowment, profiles nine case studies from across the country in which healthcare and affordable housing sectors partnered to bring better housing and better health to their communities’ most vulnerable populations.

The case studies show that, despite the many barriers to collaboration facing the healthcare and housing sectors, these partnerships can reduce government expenditure while improving the health of society’s most vulnerable.

“As these nine communities show us, providing housing as an alternative to unnecessary use of hospital and institutional-based care is good medicine and can be a place where we can find common ground across the political spectrum,” said one of the paper’s co-authors, Joshua Bamberger, MD, Mercy Housing’s Chief Medical Consultant and a primary care physician who has worked with San Francisco’s homeless population for more than 25 years.

In Hennepin County, Minnesota, for example, the state has given people who are homeless and disabled a state-funded monthly income supplement called Group Residential Housing (GRH), which has helped people experiencing homelessness find rental homes. With considerable state investment in supportive housing, as well as with the help of a local Accountable Care Organization (ACO), which helps participants find housing, Hennepin County is scheduled to reduce the number of chronically homeless adults to “functional zero” by the end of the year.

In Salinas, California, Central California Alliance for Health (CCAH), a medium-sized managed care organization, gave MidPen Housing Corporation, a nonprofit housing developer, a capital grant to develop affordable housing in the area. By providing these members with quality housing, the partnership hopes to improve their quality of life while also lowering their healthcare costs.

These and the seven other case studies show that the healthcare sector can and should invest in affordable housing. The report also demonstrates that, even in these divisive times, well thought-out partnerships have the ability to improve health and transform lives.

About Mercy Housing

Mercy Housing, Inc. (MHI), is a leading national affordable housing nonprofit headquartered in Denver, Colo. Established by the Sisters of Mercy in 1981, and in operation in 41 states, MHI has 35 years’ experience developing, preserving, managing, and financing affordable housing. MHI supplements much of its housing with Resident Services, programs that help residents build stable lives. MHI’s subsidiaries further the organization’s mission: Mercy Housing Management Group (MHMG) offers professional property management and Mercy Loan Fund (MLF) finances nonprofit organizations. MHI serves tens of thousands of people with low incomes, including families, seniors, veterans, people who have experienced homelessness, and people with disabilities. Its mission is to build a more humane world where poverty is alleviated, communities are healthy, and all people can live to their full potential. To learn more about MHI and the services it provides, visit