What can Population Health Learn about Financing from Affordable Housing and Community Development?

From the article by Katherine Wright at Rethink Health:

To help communities thrive, the United States currently invests in affordable housing and community development through centralized financing structures, implemented at the state and local levels. By any measure, it has been a tremendous success.

For example, Housing Choice Voucher Program vouchers (formerly known as

Section 8) have supported 5.3 million people with safe and secure housing between 1974-2014. The Community Development Block Grant, first passed in 1974, has brought forth $144 billion in community development investments. And, as of 2013, an estimated 13.3 million people have resided in homes financed by Low-Income Housing Tax Credits.

At ReThink Health, we have learned that the multi-sector partnerships addressing population health in their communities have been mostly financed through grants. And this made us curious: if affordable housing and community development were financed only through grants, where would our communities be today? We also wonder, how did these structures come to be? And, how might communities approach sustainable financing for population health in much the same way?

We prepared a couple of case studies investigating the development of central financing structures for these two sectors, and found that the stories provide a lot of food for thought. Here are three standout observations.

  • Observation 1: Stakeholders stayed the course across generations.
  • Observation 2: Stakeholders were willing to work collectively.
  • Observation 3: Stakeholders made choices to balance federal-level structures with state- and local-level implementation.

Read the full article.