NEW YORK – New York City Mayor Eric Adams and NYC Health + Hospitals President and CEO Dr. Mitchell Katz on Thursday November 3, announced ‘Housing for Health’ — a comprehensive initiative to serve the health system’s large patient population experiencing homelessness by connecting them to affordable homes and housing supports. Recognizing that the chronic health issues of unhoused individuals cannot be treated without stable housing, this initiative seeks to improve their health and wellbeing of New Yorkers by focusing on four strategic areas: Navigation services, medical respite beds, affordable housing on hospital property, and social service support for patients in permanent housing. Over the course of the next five years, the health system plans to leverage land to create nearly 650 new affordable homes, which will be situated near NYC Health + Hospitals facilities to deliver continuity of care for vulnerable New Yorkers with complex medical needs. This initiative delivers on multiple aspects of Mayor Adams’ “Housing Our Neighbors: A Blueprint for Housing and Homelessness” and builds on the health system’s commitment to a whole-person approach to health care.
“It’s time to look at the full picture of New Yorkers’ health challenges, and to treat these challenges holistically,” said Mayor Adams. “It’s not enough to care for unhoused New Yorkers in the emergency room and then discharge them if they have no home to recover and heal in. Adults experiencing homelessness have three times as many hospital and emergency visits compared to those with stable housing, so it’s time we finally break this vicious cycle. I am proud to announce our ‘Housing for Health’ Initiative that will connect NYC Health + Hospitals patients to permanent housing or medical respite beds and will leverage Health + Hospitals land to create 650 units of affordable housing over the next five years. We know housing is fundamental to health, and this program brings us one step closer to achieving a healthier, more equitable, and more prosperous New York City.”
“Housing is health care. For many New Yorkers, NYC Health + Hospitals serves as their health home base,” said Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Anne Williams-Isom. “It’s where they seek care, advice, and support in times of need. With this initiative, many New Yorkers will be able to come home to safe, stable, and affordable housing thanks to Health + Hospitals and its creative leveraging of existing land. Every New Yorker deserves a permanent home, and this initiative gets us one step closer to that goal.”
“Housing is fundamental to good health,” said Mitchell Katz, MD, president and CEO, NYC Health + Hospitals. “Patients with chronic conditions like diabetes or hypertension cannot manage their condition without a safe and stable place to live. Too often, our patients stay in the hospital for far longer than they should because they have nowhere else to go. Housing for Health is our investment in these patients’ health outside of the hospital walls: To a safe, stable place to live so they can focus on their health.”
“Repurposing health facilities, building on vacant land, expanding access to supportive housing, and bringing on new housing navigators are all key steps in ensuring that people going through our health system have access to housing on the back end,” said Chief Housing Officer Jessica Katz. “The Housing for Health initiative, a key feature of the Adams administration’s housing and homelessness blueprint shows how our approach to health has progressed over the years, and as we strive to house all New Yorkers, this new effort will ensure those living with chronic illnesses and those who need additional support are connected to resources, services, and the health care they need to stay housed.”
“When I first entered the shelter system a couple of years ago, I was emotionally drained and so stressed out that I couldn’t sleep,” said Jesus Cerda, resident of the T building. “I had a mental break down, and I ended up the Psychiatric Unit at Harlem hospital. When I was discharged, my caseworker told me that I qualified for an apartment at the T building. In July, I was finally able to move in, and I couldn’t be happier. Now I have my own studio apartment. It is truly a fantastic feeling to have tranquility, the ability to cook my own meals, and focus on my next steps in life. I finally feel happy and in control of my life.”
In addition to improving health outcomes, Housing for Health will also reduce reliance on expensive emergency and hospital care. Last year, NYC Health + Hospitals provided care for 43,500 single adults experiencing homelessness — six percent of the more than 725,000 patients served by the health system. Adults experiencing homelessness have three times more hospital and emergency department visits than the general population. Through Housing for Health, the health system will expand cross-sector collaborations with community-based organizations, government agencies, funders, and affordable and supportive housing developers and owners committed to improving individual and community health.
Since January 2020, more than 1,000 patients have already been served under the program (over 800 patients have been placed in medical respite beds and over 400 patients have been placed in permanent housing, some of whom were placed in medical respite beds before.)The expanded initiative was announced today at the T Building, a former tuberculosis hospital on the campus of NYC Health + Hospitals/Queens that was converted into 200 apartments, 75 of which are supportive housing for patients of the hospital system formerly experiencing homelessness. The 125 other mixed-income units are affordable to households with incomes from 60 percent to 80 percent of Area Median Income. On-site case management — provided by the non-profit CAMBA and funded through the NYC 15/15 Supportive Housing Initiative — includes connection to medical, mental health and substance treatment, access to benefits, and financial literacy courses.
“Homelessness is a tragedy our city has long faced, but we can create change with the right team, collaboration and with resources,” said Talya Schwartz, MD, president and CEO, MetroPlusHealth. “We see patients overstay their time in acute and long-term care facilities because they do not have a safe and proper home to return to. Proper housing creates an opportunity for better health outcomes. For patients to live, heal, and thrive, we must support them and set them up for success.”
“Every New Yorker deserves safe, quality affordable housing, and we know, without question, that housing supports health and well-being,” said Leora Jontef, assistant vice president, Housing + Real Estate, NYC Health + Hospitals. “I’m proud that the nation’s largest public health system sees this connection and is taking action. Together with our colleagues across government and the non-profit and private sectors, we are bringing health care to the table to help deliver housing for vulnerable New Yorkers.”
Housing for Health Strategies
Housing Navigation Services: NYC Health + Hospitals counsels and helps eligible patients to access and apply for supportive, affordable, and market-rate housing, as well as rental subsidies. This resource is vital to navigating the New York City complex housing landscape. Over 400 people to date have been placed in permanent housing through this program. The city also plans to expand housing navigation support for patients by partnering with an experienced, community-based organization to provide services and help place even more patients into permanent homes.
Medical Respite Beds for Frail Patients: NYC Health + Hospitals funds the largest medical respite bed program in New York City. Its 51 medical respite beds in Manhattan and the Bronx offer social service support for medically frail patients who no longer need hospitalization but still require access to medical care. Medical respite services allow patients to rest, recover, de-escalate, and heal in a safe environment after a major health episode. The health system partners with two experienced nonprofit organizations — Comunilife and Institute for Community Living — which provide holistic care coordination, medically-tailored meals, and access to wound care and physical therapy. Patients also receive case management support to help identify future housing options.
Dedicate NYC Health + Hospitals Land for Affordable and Supportive Housing: NYC Health + Hospitals leases land for supportive and affordable housing developments for low- and moderate-income New Yorkers, including seniors and those formerly experiencing homelessness. Recent projects include 89 supportive and affordable housing units on the campus of NYC Health + Hospitals/Woodhull and over 200 affordable housing units to be built on the campus of NYC Health + Hospitals/Morrisania. Overall, there are 1,600 apartment units on NYC Health + Hospitals land. Housing for Health plans to leverage additional land to create nearly 650 new affordable homes near NYC Health + Hospitals resources to deliver continuity of care for vulnerable New Yorkers.
Fund Social Support Services in Permanent Housing: NYC Health + Hospitals funds on-site social services to help patients stabilize and thrive in their new housing environment. Support services individualize support to ease the transition from homelessness to permanent housing, assistance with accessing benefits, connecting to local food pantries and employment services, and continued care coordination.