DENVER—Mercy Housing has been adding about a thousand units to its portfolio every year for the last five years.

The pace will continue over the next five years as the national nonprofit organization develops 6,000 to 8,000 units, according to Sister Lillian Murphy, Mercy’s CEO.

In its 25-year history, Mercy Housing has developed nearly 19,000 affordable housing units and continues to own more than 14,000 units, making it one of the most recognized names in the industry.

Offering a continuum of housing, from apartments for formerly homeless individuals to affordable for-sale homes, is one way that the organization is unique. Another is its strategic partnerships with nine health-care systems across the country, including two new relationships in Illinois and Texas.

“We’ve agreed to work with them to determine how affordable housing can be done in their communities,” said Murphy, a former hospital administrator. “Many hospitals are required to do community-needs assessments. Housing is often at the top of the list for their employees and the greater community.”

Mercy Housing has deployed about 8,000 units in conjunction with these partners. The health-care systems often contribute funding or even land for the housing, and they introduce Mercy Housing leaders into their communities. In some cases, they also provide health care to residents.

Another key relationship for Mercy Housing is the 13 groups of Catholic nuns that provide financial contributions and community connections.

A look ahead

In a new move, Mercy Housing leaders decided that it would be more effective if regional offices had more authority and decision-making power, and over the past year the organization has shifted to a more decentralized business model.

Three states and two groups of states make up the core markets for Mercy Housing: Washington; California; Colorado; the cluster of Wisconsin, Illinois, and Ohio; and another group composed of Georgia and South Carolina.