AZ Health Providers Start $100M Fund for Affordable Housing

By Angela Gonzales | Phoenix Business Journal

In an effort to bring more affordable housing units to Arizona, a group of health care CEOs have gotten together to create a $100 million fund to help finance these construction projects.

So far, Aetna, Dignity Health and UnitedHealthcare have committed $35 million in below-market debt that can be used by this fund to support projects to increase the number of affordable housing units, said Joe Gaudio, CEO of the west region for UnitedHealthcare Community & State.

Another $2 million in charitable grant funding has been earmarked by several other health care providers, including Arizona Complete Health, Banner-University Health Plan, Care1st Health Plan Arizona, Health Choice Arizona, Magellan Complete Care of Arizona, Mercy Care, the NARBHA Institute and UnitedHealthcare.

But it’s not just affordable housing these CEOs are thinking about.

The goal is to address social determinants of health to create supportive ecosystems for people where they live, learn, shop and work, Gaudio said.

For developers to qualify for this funding, their projects need to address these social determinants of health, such as where they live, their level of education and the type of job they hold that shape their health condition.

Projects that qualify for this funding might develop a common space that could be used for a mobile food pantry or dental clinic or a place to invite organizations that assist in job training and placement, Gaudio said.

Projects near a bus rail or light rail line that would address transportation challenges also will be considered for funding.

A project could allow for retail space on the bottom floor to rent at affordable rates to a minority-owned mom and pop business, he said.

“It’s about addressing those social determinants of health, but it’s also looking at economic development,” Gaudio said. “It’s also looking for developers to think differently to understand who you are renting to and the challenges they face.”

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