CDCLI and key partners have long observed the positive benefits of affordable, good quality, and stable housing on client health. We have brought about positive health outcomes for many clients in our weatherization and home rehabilitation programs, senior rental homes, and tenants under the Nursing Home Transition and Diversion Program. When housing is stable, weather tight, accessible, safe from tripping hazards, and green, the occupants are healthier.
CDCLI believes that housing is a platform from which we can work to improve health outcomes, particularly when woven into a supportive living environment that promotes healthy lifestyles. To that end, we launched a Healthy Homes Pilot Program in June 2015 in the Village of Hempstead to improve the overall health and well-being of a very low-income, vulnerable population.
The first component of the pilot was the renovation of Gladys Gardens, 30 family apartments owned by the Hempstead Housing Authority (HHA). Work included energy efficiency measures under the NYS Department of Homes and Community Renewal’s Weatherization program, as well as providing a new roof, leaders and gutters, funded by JPMorgan Chase Foundation.
The second component was to assess the health and safety issues of the HHA units and, to accomplish that, over 170 additional units of HHA’s housing were inspected by CDCLI staff for health and safety concerns, including impediments to aging in place. These inspections will guide the HHA and CDCLI in future renovations.
A third component was to assess the health needs of the HHA residents. In consultation with our partners, HHA and Nu-Health, a comprehensive Health Needs Survey was prepared and we worked with residents to secure completion of more than 100 surveys. We conducted an on-site Community Health Fair at the HHA with the Health and Welfare Council of Long Island and Island Harvest, where residents were given free health screenings, information on health insurance and community resources, and participated in the Health Needs Survey.
The National Center for Suburban Studies at Hofstra University analyzed the surveys to track and measure health outcomes; report on the creation of linkages, referrals and partnerships with health providers generated as a result of the Healthy Homes program; report on best practices based on the baseline health data to improve the overall health and well-being of the residents; and report on efforts to replicate the program elsewhere. Seminal gaps in health services identified through the Pilot Program were lack of integrated services and under-utilization of the nearby Long Island Federally Qualified Health Care (LIFQHC), NuHealth Family Health Centers.
To that end, CDCLI is now working on a brand new approach to health care by implementing Service Enriched Housing on-site at the HHA, which will include:
- Co-location of one LIFQHC Care Coordinator at each of the HHA residences for four hours per week to provide walk-in medical, behavioral, and social services with ongoing one-on-one
contact as needed.
- Co-location at HHA residences of Complementary Alternative Modalities and health-supportive services addressing socialization, integrative health, stress mitigation, nutrition, fitness, and behavioral services.
- Development of a Peer-to-Peer Health Ambassador Program. Peer Health Ambassadors will be professionally trained in communication and engagement and will function as in-house community/cultural liaisons with program partners and/or providers, and will promote awareness and utilization of health supportive resources and services among their neighbors.
Our model increases primary care access at the LIFQHC and creates integration among traditionally siloed health, human, housing, and community development services with the goal of effectively addressing resident needs and improving the overall health and well-being of HHA residents. This holistic and comprehensive approach creates intentional and lasting partnerships with health care providers, service providers, community-based organizations, and opportunities in federal and state level health care reforms.