CVS Health is expanding upon its commitment to address racial inequity and social determinants of health in underserved communities. The company will invest $25 million with R4 Capital to build 224 affordable housing units for families and seniors in Louisiana.
“When people have access to high-quality, affordable housing, it puts them in a better position to take care of their health and manage chronic disease,” said David Casey, senior vice president and chief diversity officer, CVS Health. “As part of our commitment to address social justice and racial inequity, we're addressing social determinants of health at the community level, which is where we can make a meaningful and lasting impact.”
The company cited a July report from the National Low-Income Housing Coalition, which found that rent is out of reach for most low-wage workers in every state. In Louisiana, data compiled from the Louisiana Housing Corporation indicate that 45% of renters devote more than 35% of their household income to rent — the fifth highest in the country.
CVS Health is working with Gulf Coast Housing Partnership and its partner Alembic Community Development to build a 192-unit affordable housing development located at 1300 Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard and 1801 Thalia Street in New Orleans. GCHP is a regional real estate development company based in New Orleans that focuses on producing affordable and mixed-income communities and developing complementary commercial and community space. The new development in Central City New Orleans will offer one-, two- and three-bedroom housing units at a reduced rent to families and seniors with demonstrated need. All residents will have access to onsite supportive services, including a federally qualified health center to help increase access to primary care and behavioral health.
“We are grateful for the support of CVS Health and Aetna,” said Kathy Laborde, GCHP president and CEO. “Many organizations recognize the impact that quality affordable housing and access to health care have on someone’s health and wellbeing, but it takes the financial investment of partners like CVS Health and Aetna to help provide those services to communities in need.”
In addition to the New Orleans investment, CVS Health will work with GCHP to build a new 32-unit development, Country Ridge Estates in Opelousas. The new apartments will offer one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments at a reduced rate, and over 30% of the units will be set aside for single-parent families and those experiencing homelessness.
“Our investment in the Louisiana community will provide safe housing with direct access to care — a commitment that that will have a direct impact on the Louisiana Medicaid community for years to come,” said Richard Born, CEO of Aetna Better Health of Louisiana.
CVS Health also will offer its Project Health no-cost biometric screening program to the Louisiana community next year. Project Health offers free biometric screenings to help identify chronic conditions before they become life-threatening illnesses. Valued at over $100, these no-cost screenings measure body mass index, blood pressure, glucose and total cholesterol. The screenings can detect early risks for chronic conditions like diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease.
The company said it also is exploring opportunities to expand its national workforce initiatives program in New Orleans to help break the cycle of poverty by providing employment services and training to the community.