New United Hospital Fund Framework Addresses Health and Housing Partnerships in New York City

Thursday, June 25, 2020

New UHF Framework Addresses Health and Housing Partnerships in New York City

NEW YORK, NY—June 25, 2020—United Hospital Fund today released a framework for developing community-wide partnerships between health care, housing, homeless services providers, and policymakers to help address New York City’s housing and homelessness crisis and its impact on health outcomes.

The work described in the report was completed before the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has only added to the urgency of the existing housing crisis. Like the pandemic, the housing crisis is most burdensome for people of color, individuals who are living in crowded housing, and the homeless.

Even before the pandemic, a record-setting 132,660 people used the city’s homeless shelter system in 2019, according to the Coalition for the Homeless, and more than a quarter of city residents face a severe rent burden. Since 2009, the city’s population grew by 500,000, but only 100,000 new housing units came to market. 

“Both homelessness and housing insecurity are known to have detrimental effects on health outcomes, leaving individuals susceptible to higher rates of chronic disease, increased morbidity and mortality rates, and higher risks for mental health effects, such as anxiety,” said Kristina Ramos-Callan, UHF program manager and lead author of the report, The Road Forward: Framework for a Population Health Approach to Health and Housing Partnerships. “Using a partnership model to address some of the causes and symptoms of the housing crisis presents a unique opportunity for public, private, and nonprofit sectors to work together to improve both the health and housing status the most vulnerable New Yorkers.”

The framework is the result of a year-long UHF project to understand the interdependencies of health and housing and advance a viable approach for spreading partnerships throughout New York City. It recommends an approach rooted in three critical and overlapping areas: 

•    grass-roots, neighborhood-level action
•    community-wide partnerships
•    collective health and housing policy, regulation, and funding solutions

The report provides guidance on key components of each of these areas as well as recommendations for organizing strategies and program goals for health and housing partnerships, suggestions for governance structures, and the needed capacities of community-wide health and housing partnerships. 

It also describes several successful such partnerships, such as The Bronx Health and Housing Consortium, established in 2011. A network of over 70 organizations, including hospitals, health homes, community-based organizations, managed care plans and government agencies, the Consortium provides members with services like research, advocacy, training, and technical assistance, and it facilitates cross-sector collaboration. In 2017 it expanded to Brooklyn; to date the Bronx and Brooklyn consortia have trained over 500 health and housing stakeholders in areas as varied as eviction prevention, permanent supportive housing, homeless services, and referrals. 

“Existing collaborations in New York City between health care and community service organizations have proven critical for mitigating the impact of the COVID pandemic in the short term,” said UHF president Anthony Shih, MD. “This framework maps pathways for collaboration between health, housing, and other sectors, which can drive innovation, inform policy, and help define the future of health and housing in New York.”

The project was supported by the New York City Population Health Improvement Program  with funding from the New York State Department of Health. The Road Forward: Framework for a Population Health Approach to Health and Housing Partnerships can be downloaded from UHF’s website.

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