- Kaiser Permanente has announced three new initiatives that will help to address the social determinants of health (SDOHs) by increasing access to affordable housing for vulnerable residents in California.
The initiatives include investing in real estate in Oakland, developing a $100 million national loan fund for affordable housing, and launching a plan to end homelessness for more than 500 Oakland-area residents. These programs are part of a comprehensive plan to improve the economic, social, and environmental conditions in the communities Kaiser Permanente serves.
“Housing security is a crucial health issue for vulnerable populations,” said Bernard J. Tyson, chairman and CEO of Kaiser Permanente.
“Access to affordable housing is a key component to Kaiser Permanente’s mission to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve and to advance the economic, social and environmental conditions for health.”
At a recent press conference, Tyson announced the first local impact investment from Kaiser Permanente’s $200 million Thriving Communities Fund.
A new joint equity fund between Enterprise Community Partners and Kaiser Permanente, called the Housing for Health Fund, has committed approximately $5.2 million to acquire a 41-unit housing complex in the San Antonio district of Oakland.
Kaiser Permanente is also partnering with the East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation (EBALDC) to ensure the property gets needed upgrades and is preserved as affordable housing. As part of this partnership, EBALDC will offer supportive services to residents and work to build healthy neighborhoods through community development.
“We are proud to partner with Kaiser Permanente and Enterprise for the first investment of the Housing for Health Fund. Through this partnership, we can maximize positive health outcomes in Oakland by supporting residents’ ability to remain in their homes,” said Joshua Simon, executive director of EBALDC.
“This couldn’t come at a more critical time for San Antonio, a district on the brink of gentrification. To adequately address the urgent housing crisis, we are facing in the Bay Area, we must think creatively and collaboratively. Housing is more than a roof over our heads; it is central to our health and well-being. We hope this fruitful partnership can serve as a powerful model for Oakland, California, and the nation.”
In addition to the Housing for Health Fund, Kaiser Permanente and Enterprise announced a second fund to finance the development and preservation of affordable housing. The two organizations will launch a $100 million loan fund that will create multifamily rental homes for low-income residents across Kaiser Permanente’s service areas.
“Enterprise is excited to be a leader in this innovative effort, and we have seen that uniting the housing and health care sectors and making creative use of investment capital will foster healthy homes and communities,” said Laurel Blatchford, president of Enterprise.
“Collaborating with partners such as Kaiser Permanente and EBALDC, who also understand that home is at the foundation of health and wellbeing, will improve thousands of lives across the country.”
Finally, Kaiser Permanente announced a third initiative to end homelessness for more than 500 individuals in Oakland over the age of 50, all of whom have at least one chronic condition. Kaiser Permanente noted that Oakland has been hit particularly hard by the housing crisis: between 2015 and 2017, homelessness in Oakland increased by nearly 25 percent.
Together with a community partner, Kaiser Permanente identified 500 vulnerable residents and is now working with the city and Alameda County to secure housing and other vital services for individuals on this list.
“The health and wellness of Oakland is tied to housing in Oakland. I’m grateful for partners like Kaiser Permanente, EBALDC and Enterprise who are taking a new approach to improving the health outcomes of all our residents by improving housing security for our most vulnerable residents,” said Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf.
“This is a bold investment to improve our city’s health — and we will continue to innovate and create new pathways until all Oakland residents, in all neighborhoods, feel secure in their housing.”
With these new initiatives, Kaiser Permanente will aim to improve housing access and population health for the communities it serves.
“Improving access to affordable housing is one of the most impactful community interventions we can make to eliminate homelessness,” said Janet Liang, regional president for Kaiser Permanente of Northern California.
“These new investments complement several strategies we have sponsored over the past year to help all Oakland residents thrive.”