Brigham and Women's Hospital, through its Center for Community Health and Health Equity, is awarding $1.2 million over three years to community organizations working to improve housing stabilization in Brigham and Women's five priority neighborhoods — Dorchester, Jamaica Plain, Mattapan, Mission Hill, and Roxbury. The funding will have a specific focus on increasing the housing security of those who have experienced domestic violence, community violence, human trafficking, and sexual assault.
Funds were made possible through a community health improvement allocation associated with the approval of a determination of needs (DoN) application for the emergency department renovation, a radiation and oncology equipment partnership, and purchase of radiology equipment. In accordance with Massachusetts state regulations, Brigham and Women’s Hospital is required to allocate 5 percent of its maximum capital expenditures related to construction or large equipment purchases to community health initiatives. The Brigham decided to focus these funds on housing stabilization since the hospital’s Community Health Needs Assessment underscored housing instability as a key health issue in the hospital’s priority neighborhoods. In addition, the Brigham and Women's Hospital DoN committee prioritized housing as a key area for funding.
Why is Brigham and Women's Investing in Stable Housing?
Where people live is integral to their daily lives, health, and well-being. Conditions in the home and neighborhood environment may promote health or be a source of exposures that may increase the risk of adverse health outcomes.
Housing is generally the largest household expense. In the Brigham’s priority neighborhoods, 27-40 percent of owners with mortgages and 36-58 percent of renters are cost-burdened, which means they spend 30 percent or more of their income on monthly housing costs. Many, however, do not meet the necessary qualifications for housing assistance or need temporary extra support that could mean the difference between housing and homelessness. Stabilization funds will help more people stay in their homes and not have to sacrifice food, health care, or other basic life necessities to keep themselves and their families housed and healthy.
Furthermore, housing instability and stress of housing affordability have been found to be associated with poorer mental health outcomes and disruptions in work, school, and day care arrangements. Poor housing quality can have direct negative health impacts such as respiratory conditions (e.g., asthma) due primarily to poor indoor air quality, cognitive delays in children from exposure to neurotoxins (e.g., lead), and accidents and injuries due to structural deficiencies.
Innovative Stable Housing Initiative
Brigham and Women's Hospital has partnered with Boston Children’s Hospital (Children’s) and Boston Medical Center (BMC) to provide flexible funding to address current and urgent needs of individuals and families experiencing housing instability who could benefit from financial aid to improve their housing security. The Brigham is honored to partner with these two institutions to support local organizations as they provide invaluable support and guidance to community members facing serious housing challenges.
BMC, Children’s and Brigham and Women's Hospital will be working closely with Health Resources in Action (HRiA) for administrative/grant management support for the Innovative Stable Housing Initiative. HRiA has conducted a very extensive community engagement process, which included focus groups, community surveys, and interviews to describe the landscape of Boston’s housing market and stable housing work to date.