Jul 21, 2020

Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island supports affordable housing development with $75K grant

PROVIDENCE, RI (July 21, 2020) Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island (BCBSRI) has awarded Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) Rhode Island a grant of $75,000. The funds will support LISC’s Neighborhood Development Fund, which provides funding, training, resources and technical assistance in an effort to strengthen the operations of community development corporations (CDCs) to produce affordable housing while addressing broader community revitalization issues.

“We are honored to partner with LISC Rhode Island in their ongoing and important commitment to building community through investments that improve and increase housing stock, clean up vacant lots, and give dilapidated buildings new purpose,” said Carolyn Belisle, BCBSRI managing director of community relations. “Our support of the Neighborhood Development Fund aims to leverage LISC Rhode Island’s expertise to provide the necessary assistance to ensure that investments lead to projects that are well structured, appropriately financed, built on time and on budget.”

Belisle continued, “This type of critical work is at the core of Blue Cross’ commitment to improving the health and well-being of our Rhode Island communities, particularly our focus on increasing affordable housing accessibility for all.”

BCBSRI’s grant will help provide additional resources to the pool available for CDCs to enhance their ability to hire and retain specialized staff (ex. executive directors, finance officers and real estate development managers); implement portfolio stabilizing asset management strategies; and adopt new eviction prevention methodologies.

“The link between safe, affordable housing and healthcare is becoming very clear and one of the most important ways of addressing health equity,” said Jeanne Cola, executive director of LISC Rhode Island.  “Blue Cross is a valued partner and a strong advocate in the mission to create housing security for Rhode Islanders.”

This grant is the latest in BCBSRI’s recent expansion of philanthropic giving to include housing. This follows last year’s release of the RI Life Index, a 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.

Housing is one of the best-researched social determinants of health, and selected housing interventions, particularly for low-income people, have been found to improve health outcomes. This grant to LISC Rhode Island joins a series of grants provided by BCBSRI since the release of the RI Life Index, now totaling nearly $800,000; each focused on increasing awareness of the need for, and improving access to, affordable housing in Rhode Island.

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