When we look at the many needs of low-income communities across the country it’s easy to get stuck in silos—housing or schools, economic development or social services, safer streets or healthier residents. It’s more difficult to find ways to address those myriad interrelated needs together.
The silos are certainly apparent when it comes to health care and affordable housing. Though there are programs dedicated to building and operating both health care facilities and affordable homes, they do not generally connect to each other, even though we have long known that poor housing and poor health are related. What if we could find a way to truly integrate the two?
That question was the genesis of the Healthy Futures Fund (HFF), a new investment vehicle developed by the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) in partnership with Morgan Stanley and the Kresge Foundation. HFF is bringing together grant, loan and equity capital to build affordable housing and community health centers as well as fund services that link them in places where one of the two already exist.
The three founding partners have seeded the new fund with $100 million in initial capital. That funding will support development of 500 housing units with integrated health services and eight Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) that will serve an estimated 75,000 people. The fund is designed to spur collaboration between health care providers and housing developers who do not often work together, even when they operate in the same low-income neighborhoods and serve the same people. In short, it encourages those of us active in community development to look at our work through a health lens. And it helps health providers recognize the benefits of community development partnerships that address the social determinants of health for their patients