The Centene Foundation will provide below-market loans to support McCormack Baron Salazar’s predevelopment design and planning work on affordable housing developments in distressed and underserved communities across multiple states.

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The foundation, the philanthropic arm of Centene Corp.—a leading health care company—and the prominent affordable housing developer announced their new multiyear partnership, saying the financing will enable approximately $900 million of direct construction-related activity.

The effort is “intended to address the critical lack of affordable housing—a key driver of health—impacting many economically vulnerable populations for whom Centene provides vital health care services,” according to officials.Financial terms of the partnership were not disclosed.

While no transactions have closed yet, officials said each development project will be designed with the health of residents in mind. As a result, the projects may include space for health-related services such as Federally Qualified Health Centers, grocery stores, community gyms, and other beneficial offerings that can be accessed by the local community.

"Among the challenges facing many low-income Americans is the availability of affordable housing," said Centene CEO Sarah M. London. "This innovative partnership promises to accelerate the development of high-quality, affordable housing by providing early-stage funding at rates not available on the open market. Centene and our local health plans will also have the opportunity to participate in community engagement to help ensure that new housing and on-site services have the greatest possible impact on the health of local residents, many of whom Centene serves."

Both Centene and MBS are based in St. Louis.

MBS estimates that every dollar of support from the foundation will enable the firm to obtain $30 or more of permanent financing from local, state, and federal programs and private sources. Additionally, the partnership will allow the foundation to expand its efforts to support the whole health of economically vulnerable populations across the country.

"Overcrowding, housing insecurity, and substandard housing correlate to a long list of detrimental public health outcomes," said MBS president and CEO Vince Bennett. "These include chronic disease, exposure to toxins, injuries, and child development losses. Indeed, we learned early in the pandemic the relationship between adequate housing and public health. As early as May 2020, California researchers had found a clear link between COVID-19 deaths and essential workers living in overcrowded homes. The Centene Foundation's investment in this vital preventive step can not only help stabilize households and communities, but it can save public health care funding and lives."