Feb 3, 2022
Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island awards grants to address health inequities tied to housing
2022 BlueAngel Community Health Grant program awards $405,000 to organizations working at the intersection of housing and health
PROVIDENCE, RI (February 3, 2022) — Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island (BCBSRI) continues to address health inequities related to housing by awarding $375,000 in grants to six organizations that improve access to safe, affordable housing throughout Rhode Island. Funding for these organizations comes from BCBSRI’s cornerstone grant program, BlueAngel Community Health Grants (BACHG).
BCBSRI’s philanthropic focus on housing is guided by results from the annual RI Life Index, a statewide survey of Rhode Islanders administered in partnership with the Brown University School of Public Health. The RI Life Index has consistently shown that access to safe, affordable housing is a top concern for Rhode Islanders in nearly every community. The 2022 grants build on the company’s existing investments in addressing affordable housing, which total more than $3 million since 2019.
“Imagine going about your day and not knowing if you had a place for you and your family to sleep at night. That’s the reality for far too many Rhode Islanders,” said Martha Wofford, BCBSRI president and CEO. “The pandemic has exacerbated this long-standing crisis. Without a safe, stable and affordable place to call home, people will continue to struggle, and their health will suffer. Blue Cross investments in housing are at the heart of our commitment to work with the community to achieve health equity for every person in the state.”
Since the BACHG program’s inception in 2002, BCBSRI has donated $5 million to local organizations, funding critical work that has impacted the lives of more than 322,000 Rhode Islanders. For the first time in 2022, these grants will include support specifically for nonprofit program staff who continue to serve Rhode Islanders while themselves navigating the stress of a global pandemic. A recent survey of 330 Rhode Island nonprofits conducted by the Grantmakers Council of Rhode Island and United Way of Rhode Island illustrated the toll the pandemic has taken on Rhode Island’s nonprofit infrastructure and employees.
“The pandemic has been a marathon and the tireless leadership and support provided by Rhode Island nonprofits to people in need has come at great personal sacrifice,” said Wofford. “As a gesture of support, BCBSRI will award an additional $5,000 to each 2022 BlueAngel Community Health grantee to support employee well-being and resiliency during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.”
The following organizations will receive BACHG funding in 2022:
- Direct Action for Rights and Equality (DARE) – Providence – DARE’s Tenant and Homeowner Association (THA) conducts door-to-door and other in-person outreach to low-moderate income tenants and homeowners living in Providence and Rhode Island’s communities of color, offering legal and support services to prevent evictions and displacement, ensure healthy housing conditions, and build community ownership and control of land and housing.
- Housing Network of Rhode Island – Pawtucket – The Housing Network of Rhode Island (HNRI) will add a dedicated community organizer to build the capacity of Homes RI, a multi-sector collaborative effort to increase the supply of safe, healthy, and affordable homes across Rhode Island.
- NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley – Woonsocket – NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley will deploy a full-time resident services coordinator to work one-on-one with 686 Woonsocket residents to guide them through their time in NeighborWorks housing and serve as a trusted ally to connect them with necessary resources.
- ONE Neighborhood Builders – Providence – ONE|NB will develop the Sanctuary at Valley Falls, a 42-unit affordable housing development in Cumberland. Twelve apartments in this development will be designated for nursing home diversion, providing older adults the opportunity to remain in their community. ONE|NB will convene public-sector partners, work with architects and designers, secure social service providers, and consult with prospective older adult residents to advance toward construction.
- Pawtucket Central Falls Development – Pawtucket – Decide Tu Futuro will expand PCF Development's homeownership programming to increase Latinx homeownership and financial equity in Pawtucket and Central Falls. This pilot project will include financial education classes taught exclusively in Spanish that focus on equity, housing stability and financial fitness.
- Rhode Island Coalition to End Homelessness – Pawtucket – The Coalition will implement the state’s first social impact bond, Pay for Success (PFS); expand multisector health and housing partnerships through data mapping, environmental scans, and stakeholder interviews; and elevate needs and solutions to improve the health, safety and well-being of Rhode Islanders through policy, advocacy and direct capacity expansion in the system.
BACHG funding is made available through the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island Community Health Fund maintained at the Rhode Island Foundation. More information about the BACHG program is available at bcbsri.com/about/blueangel.