After investing $67 million in affordable housing in 2019, CVS Health hopes to make an even bigger impact this year.
The pharmacy and health-care giant has made affordable housing an integral part of its effort to help underserved communities across the nation.
The company said its 2019 investments will help create more than 2,200 homes with supportive services across 24 cities in six states.
Nearly 300 permanent supportive housing units will be made available for residents who are victims of domestic violence, experiencing homelessness, affected by chronic illness, requiring behavioral health and addiction treatment, or are challenged by other life and health situations. In addition, 450 units will be dedicated to housing seniors, 59 units reserved specifically for veterans and their families, and 38 units dedicated to housing American Indian individuals and their families.
The business’ deep dive emphasizes the growing understanding of the direct relationship between health and housing. Kaiser Permanente and other health-care providers have also been making sizable commitments to affordable housing.
“CVS Health is taking the total approach where the purpose is helping people on their path to better health,” says Keli Savage, head of impact investment strategy at the company.
Housing is often that first critical step, according to Savage. “You can’t address other health issues and problems if you don’t have a safe, affordable roof over your head,” she says.
CVS Health expects to surpass its 2019 investment totals and the number of states impacted this year, with $25 million committed to projects in Ohio and another $50 million in investments being underwritten coast to coast.
Addressing housing insecurity is a core part of Destination: Health, a new series of CVS Health business programs focused on helping people improve their health outside of a clinical setting.
Since 1997, the company, along with Aetna, have made more than $1 billion in affordable housing and community investments, which have supported the creation and renovation of more than 93,000 affordable homes. CVS acquired Aetna in 2018.
While CVS Health has made investments across the country, mostly through the low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) program, California has been a recent focus.
In February, the firm celebrated the opening of Sequoia Commons, a 66-unit affordable housing development in the Central Valley community of Goshen. The project by nonprofit Self-Help Enterprises received funding as part a $20 million commitment that Aetna made to a Red Stone Equity Partners LIHTC fund.
CVS Health said it also recently closed on a $25 million commitment to a 2019 California regional fund by Red Stone Equity.
“The connection between health and high-quality housing is firmly established and having CVS Health as a major investor in Sequoia Commons strengthens this mission alignment,” says Tom Collishaw, president and CEO of Self-Help Enterprises. “Together, we are proving that we can create sustainable, healthy places of opportunity for low-income families.”
In partnership with LIHTC syndicator CREA, the company is also closing an $8.1 million commitment to finance the development of 85 affordable housing units in collaboration with the East LA Community Corp. and New Directions for Veterans. Sixty-three units are reserved for people experiencing homelessness, with 44 specifically for veterans in Los Angeles.
CVS expects to see more of its investments result in grand openings this year, including projects with syndicator Hunt Capital Partners in Fort Worth, Texas, and Union City, Ga.
“We recognize the strong connection between housing and health,” says Savage. “We are focused on cultivating the right relationships with community organizations across the country and combining strategic investments in housing with services to address the specific needs of our communities.”
The company, which has about 9,900 retail locations, is also working to extend its relationship with the housing communities beyond the initial investment, says Savage.
Last year, CVS Health announced plans to open 1,500 HealthHub stores by the end of 2021. The remodeled stores have expanded health services for customers, including health screenings and classes.
When making investments in affordable housing, the team will often share information about different programs offered at the retail locations and continue to stay in touch with the property managers and residents.