MINNETONKA, MN - UnitedHealthcare announced it has surpassed $400 million in investments in new affordable housing as part of the company’s ongoing efforts to remove social barriers to better health for people in underserved communities. The company has invested in 80 affordable-housing communities across the United States with more than 4,500 new homes for individuals and families in need.
The announcement coincides with a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the PATH Metro Villas, a new 65-unit housing center made possible by a $12 million investment from UnitedHealthcare for people experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles.
“Access to safe and affordable housing is one of the greatest obstacles to better health, making it a social determinant that affects people’s well-being and quality of life,” said Steve Nelson, CEO of UnitedHealthcare. “UnitedHealthcare partners with other socially minded organizations that understand the value of good health, and how public-private partnerships like these can succeed in helping make a positive impact in our communities.”
UnitedHealthcare began its initiative in 2011, working with leading affordable-housing advocates to invest in developments that would increase access to housing, health care and social services. UnitedHealthcare’s own Medicaid data show that when people who are homeless have access to stable housing, their health is managed more effectively. In one state, emergency room admissions dropped 60 percent, and total cost of care was 50 percent lower for people enrolled in a housing program.
UnitedHealthcare has made its investments through national and regional affordable-housing organizations such as Enterprise Community Investment, Greater Minnesota Housing Fund, US Bank, Affordable Equity Partners and Chicanos Por La Causa, Inc., among many others, by providing critical equity through state and federal tax credit programs and low-interest loans and financing.
“Enterprise and our partners like UnitedHealthcare are making a seismic shift in the health and housing sectors,” said Charlie Werhane, president and CEO of Enterprise Community Investment. “Together, we are putting health at the center of developing well-designed affordable homes, and elevating them as an essential tool for improving people’s health.”
Nearly 15 million Americans currently lack access to stable housing. According to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Commission on Health, the shortage of affordable housing limits people’s choices about where they live, often relegating lower-income families to substandard housing in unsafe, overcrowded neighborhoods with higher rates of poverty and fewer resources for healthy exercise and outdoor activities (e.g., parks, bike paths and recreation centers, etc.). The financial burden of unaffordable housing can prevent families from meeting other basic needs including nutrition and health care, and is particularly significant for low-income families.
“UnitedHealthcare’s investments in affordable housing recognize the important connection in managing the social determinants that influence well-being,” said Warren Hanson, Greater Minnesota Housing Fund president and CEO. “It’s difficult for many families to think about a job, school or their family’s health without reliable housing. UnitedHealthcare understands that link and has been an important partner in making a positive impact across the country.”
A critical element of UnitedHealthcare’s affordable-housing initiative is investing in new communities that include on-site amenities and services, such as clinical health care services, social and support counseling and monitoring, job training, academic support and adult education classes, childcare, computer labs and playgrounds. Another goal is to improve access to affordable housing for people with the greatest need including seniors, military veterans, people living with disabilities, and those struggling with homelessness.