Dec 10, 2019

BCBSRI awards $200,000 to five organizations focused on facilitating access to safe and affordable housing

PROVIDENCE, RI (December 10, 2019) – Recognizing the impact that access to safe and affordable housing has on health and well-being, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island (BCBSRI) is providing a total of $200,000 to five organizations focused on increasing awareness of the need for, and improving access to, affordable housing in Rhode Island. These grants will serve as a bridge to the 2020 BlueAngel Community Health Grant program (BACHG). BCBSRI has expanded the scope of the grant program to include funding for housing-related initiatives. BACHG grants will be awarded in early 2020.

BCBSRI’s decision to expand philanthropic giving to include housing followed the recent release of the RI Life Index, a new data resource focused on life factors, or social determinants of health (SDoH), which influence health and well-being. Specifically, the RI Life Index found availability of, and access to, safe and affordable housing is a significant concern and challenge for many Rhode Islanders.

“I’m excited that as a first step in activating the findings of the RI Life Index we are making investments that address the critical role of safe and affordable housing on the overall health and well-being of Rhode Islanders,” said BCBSRI President & CEO Kim Keck. “Extensive research shows that housing is a crucial factor influencing not only health outcomes, but also, significantly, school performance. Our company is proud to support organizations making a difference for Rhode Island families by addressing this critical need.”

Recipients of BCBSRI’s end-of-year grants include:

  • Housing Network of Rhode Island ($50,000) to support communication and visibility of the Homes RI campaign. The Homes RI campaign is a united effort of the Housing Network of Rhode Island, the United Way of Rhode Island and several housing and non-profit organizations, launched in 2018 to shine a spotlight on the increased need for Rhode Island to invest in more affordable homes across the state.
  • Crossroads Rhode Island ($50,000) to support the Health Navigator Program. Crossroads Rhode Island is the leading provider of housing and services to those experiencing homelessness in Rhode Island. Using the Housing First Model, they strive to help homeless or at-risk individuals and families secure stable housing.
  • HousingWorks RI ($50,000) to support expanded research and knowledge on senior specific housing issues in Rhode Island. HousingWorks RI at Roger Williams University is a clearinghouse of information about housing in Rhode Island. They conduct research and analyze data to inform public policy, and develop communications strategies and promote dialogue about the relationship between housing and the state’s economic future and Rhode Island residents’ well-being.
  • The Village Common ($30,000) to accelerate the development of new Villages, avoid redundant Village administration and provide direct support for the creation of new Villages across Rhode Island. Originally founded as The Providence Village, an organization that provides support services helping older people to continue living and aging in good health in their homes, is now renaming and expanding to The Village Common, which is modeled after similar efforts in Connecticut and California.
  • Family Service of Rhode Island ($20,000) to support Healthy Kids Rhode Island, which aims to address significant areas of need for kids as determined by a SDoH screening tool, with focus on housing, medical care and behavioral healthcare. FSRI is a comprehensive non-profit social service organization that manages a myriad of programs providing essential resources for underserved individuals, families and communities.

 Grants targeted to address housing are just one of the ways BCBSRI is addressing the social determinants of health. BCBSRI has already introduced products that offer rides to and from the doctor’s office, and meals delivered to a member’s home following an inpatient hospital stay. These are just two examples of innovative approaches designed to remove barriers to good health that affect Rhode Islanders in communities statewide.

This funding is made available through the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island Community Health Fund maintained at the Rhode Island Foundation.

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