NJ University Hospital is making inroads into affordable housing

University Medical Center University Hospital in Newark, NJ, is collaborating with the state government and home developers to build affordable housing for residents and patients.

The new program, called the Hospital Partnership Grant Program, joins a growing trend of declining health systems to provide residents with lower incomes with accommodation at bargain prices.

The program will match hospital financial contributions from developers and the state, and in this case, will end up providing 78 apartments for rent to people on lower incomes. Some of the units will be classified as supportive accommodation and will include access to medical services. To date, St. Joseph and RWJBarnabas Health have also joined the partnership.

The new units will be placed on top of a ground floor outpatient clinic and a hospital office space managed by the University Hospital. Most of the $ 41.4 million project funds come from the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency, with $ 3 million from the hospital.

“Support housing has never been a more critical component to the health care equation than it is today, and we are excited to meet with our state and local partners to develop this project in the heart of Newark. , ”said Shereef Elnahal, CEO of the university hospital. “This also brings our campus closer to meeting the obligations of the Newark Accords, created following a different period of racial tension and dedicating this hospital back to its community.”

Many studies have shown that affordable housing plays a major role in the patient Hi. Without it, people can make the choice between paying for accommodation or medication and doctor’s visits.

Other health systems invest in existing affordable housing. Earlier this year Toledo, Ohio-based health system, ProMedica entered into a multi-year, multi-city partnership with funding from its impact fund, an initiative to address the social determinants of health in communities. of the area. The project will pay in part for the removal of lead paint, the fight against mold and the extermination of pests.

Other hospital systems, however, are moving away from fully owning affordable housing. Based nonprofit in South Dakota Sanford Health has sold 42 affordable housing units after being acquired due to its merger with the Evangelical Lutheran Society of Good Samaritans in 2019. The portfolio includes more than 1,700 units and has cost $ 17.1 million to manage. but it will bring in only $ 15.3 million in operating income by 2020.

“To succeed in a bargain, you need to scale,” Eric Vanden Hull, vice president of finance for the Good Samaritan Society, told Modern Healthcare in February. “Seventeen hundred units may seem like a lot of units, but compared to some of these larger ones, it’s quite small. We don’t just have the unit scale.”

Former HHS secretary Alex Azar first the idea floated that CMS could reimburse health care providers who provide housing to patients. Congress should change the law to allow CMS to pay providers, so some analysts at the moment say HHS could work directly with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The idea, however, did not gain much traction.

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