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Housing and healthcare – innovation at its finest

Housing and healthcare – innovation at its finest
The Housing Authority of Champaign County (HACC), The Carle Foundation and the City of Urbana are pooling resources to provide additional housing opportunities for families in the community.
“Qualifying families enrolled in our Healthy Beginnings program are getting some extra assistance to help them meet an important need – safe and affordable housing,” said Julianna Sellett, DNP, MBA, RN, Carle’s vice president of Community Health Initiatives.
As part of this partnership, both Carle and the HACC are leveraging their unique resources to ensure children and their families, regardless of life circumstances, have an opportunity to be prosperous and live the healthiest lives they can.
Carle contributed to the partnership by transferring three Urbana homes owned by the health system, plus $150,000 for renovations, to the HACC. The funds will also cover the renovation costs for one additional HACC-owned home in Champaign.
“HACC provides so much more than housing. We offer individuals a solid foundation in which to build successful lives,” said David A. Northern, Sr., Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer, HACC. “Looking at our partnership with Carle’s Healthy Beginnings program, what we have accomplished thus far reminds me of a quote by Henry Ford, ‘Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.’”
The Housing Authority program aligns with the focus of Carle’s Healthy Beginnings initiative. Healthy Beginnings serves more than 300 families in Champaign, Urbana and Savoy. Families receive home visits by nurses, social workers, and an early childhood educator throughout pregnancy and into early childhood years to ensure all household members receive individualized health, education, and social support. The team assists families in working through any barriers that prevents each family from achieving their unique goals. 
“The most effective interventions for long-term prosperity begin early in life,” Sellett said. “Families have a greater ability to thrive when they have stable living conditions.”
Urbana Mayor Diane Marlin said the City offers a number of programs to augment the Carle-HACC initiative, including help with down payment and closing costs for those interested in homeownership and financial education and homebuyer classes for those on the path to financial stability and independence.
According to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), Champaign County is one of five counties in the state identified to have severe housing problems, with over 20.25% of households experiencing significant issues. 
“Lack of access to safe, clean and affordable housing can severely affect a person’s health – physical, mental and emotional,” Sellett said. “With stable living conditions, Healthy Beginnings families have marked increases in household employment and improvement in managing chronic health conditions. Additionally, we’re seeing a reduction in depression, anxiety, domestic violence encounters and better utilization of community social and health services that support family wellness.”
The partners are working to identify families with anticipated move-in spring 2020.
“When faced with limited resources, a person may choose to spend their money, time and energy to meet basic needs like housing first rather than managing health,” Northern said.
Carle officials say partnerships like this help identify diverse ways to improve their communities.
“This is community innovation at its finest. We’re using existing resources differently to tackle the complex issues related to housing. Stable housing is a key element of a multi-pronged approach to robust health, educational achievement and self-sufficiency. We are all focused on the same goal – to building healthier families, communities and futures,” Sellett said.
Innovation and partnerships earned HACC a prestigious Moving to Work (MTW) Agency designation, 1 of 39 in the country.
As such, they have the opportunity to design and test innovative, locally designed strategies that use Federal dollars more efficiently, help residents find employment and become self-sufficient, and increase housing choices for low-income families.
HACC’s YouthBuild Director Lily Walton said program participants will be working on a significant portion of the rehab for these homes, which doubles the impact.
“In addition to meeting a critical housing need, our partnership will also equip at-risk and disadvantaged youth ages 16 to 24 with basic construction skills and training,” she said.
These skills can lead to sustainable employment and construction industry recognized certifications.
“We’re pioneering a new positive intervention with the potential to be replicated across the country,” Northern said.

Categories: News

Tags: education, families, giving, health, healthy beginnings, , housing

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