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Investing in our Communities to Help End Homelessness

Kaiser Permanente to help provide more affordable housing in Los Angeles and San Diego

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To help tackle the homeless epidemic, a loan from Kaiser Permanente to Enterprise Community Loan Fund has recently resulted in 2 impact investments totaling $4.3 million in Los Angeles and San Diego to provide more affordable, secure homes for those most in need of shelter.

With 4.6 million members across Southern California, nonprofit Kaiser Permanente seeks to improve the health of the communities it serves by both providing high-quality, integrated health care services and enhancing the economic and social conditions in communities that impact people’s health.

These investments will create and preserve 75 affordable and/or permanent supportive housing units in 2 counties with among the highest rates of homelessness, the least affordable housing and the most rapidly changing housing markets in California. 

“Stable, affordable housing is essential to a person’s health. Yet, many of the communities we serve are grappling with high rates of housing insecurity and homelessness. These efforts are designed to help change that.” 

--John Yamamoto, vice president, Community Health and Government Relations, Kaiser Permanente Southern California

The Los Angeles and San Diego developments are the first impact investments in Southern California from the recently created $100 million RxHome Fund. This fund is comprised of a $50 million loan from Kaiser Permanente to Enterprise Community Loan Fund, plus an additional $50 million in capital from ECLF. The goal of the RxHome Fund is to create and to preserve 3,250 healthy and affordable homes over the next decade in Kaiser Permanente’s service areas nationwide.

The RxHome Fund is part of Kaiser Permanente’s $200 million Thriving Communities Fund addressing housing stability, homelessness and other community needs. The Thriving Communities Fund is designed to make investments to improve the conditions for health in the communities served by Kaiser Permanente, where 12.3 million members and 68 million people reside. Impact investing is an innovative strategy to produce measurable social benefit impacting people’s lives, with sufficient financial returns to replenish funds for continued investment. 

Lori Chatman, president of Enterprise Community Loan Fund, said this $4.3 million investment of private capital is to support well-designed homes that are affordable and connected to health care, good jobs, schools and transit. “As a social impact investor, Kaiser Permanente is investing to create better health outcomes for residents while earning a financial return,” she explained. “We hope that Kaiser Permanente’s investment will inspire even more socially minded investors to recognize the connection between positive health outcomes and a stable home.”

In Los Angeles, $1.1 million will be invested in a Los Angeles Family Housing development in the North Hills area of the San Fernando Valley. The Angel Apartments project will transform 22,260 square feet of underutilized commercial space into 53 units of permanent supportive housing for formerly homeless residents, as well as chronically homeless veterans. The development will feature 4 residential floors and on-site support services that include intervention, education and employment assistance, substance abuse and health treatment, after-school academic support and community activities.

Michael Nagar, a formerly homeless veteran who was able to secure housing with assistance from Los Angeles Family Housing, said he and others are grateful for the efforts to place homeless individuals, including veterans, in housing that offers them stability and a better quality of life.

“Affordable and supportive housing is important for veterans,” said Nagar, an artist. “Veterans are likely to become chronically homeless because in military service, we learn to live in a harsh environment, have a higher tolerance for difficult situations and have a certain degree of pride. Coming back from service, it can often be difficult to adjust back into society, so having the support and resources to help us work through our experiences is extremely important. I appreciate the dedicated people who make affordable housing for veterans possible, because it shows that the community and the city do care about our needs and will do something to end homelessness for veterans.”

Daniel Huynh, vice president of real estate at Los Angeles Family Housing, said Kaiser Permanente’s impact investment, through ECLF, will help put a dent in the homeless crisis. “It facilitates the easy completion of key pre-construction tasks like environmental testing and engineering work, creating a seamless transition to the ultimate goal – building more homes,” he explained.

In San Diego, $3.2 million will be invested to preserve 22 units of affordable housing at the 43rd Street Apartments in the City Heights area currently housing  low- and moderate-income families. The developer, Housing Innovation Partners, plans to keep the rents for this housing stable for residents.  

Supporting developments that preserve existing affordable housing is just as important as building new affordable units. By maintaining existing affordable units, communities can prevent more people from falling into homelessness. 

Jon Walters, associate director of Housing Innovation Partners, emphasized how the loss of affordable, multifamily housing is impacting a growing number of families in the San Diego region, and how that is contributing to increased homelessness in the community.

“When we first met with the residents of the property, their main concern was that the purchase of the site would result in a dramatic increase in rent or a loss of their housing,” Walters said. “We were happy to inform them not only have we been able to preserve the site as affordable housing, but have the goal of reducing their tenant portion of rent over time.”

“We’re just getting started,” Yamamoto said. “The Los Angeles and San Diego projects are the first two investments aimed at reducing homelessness and supporting housing for health. We’re actively searching for future affordable housing projects and partnerships throughout Southern California.” 

Kris Freed, chief of programs at Los Angeles Family Housing, noted working with organizations like Kaiser Permanente and Enterprise Community Loan Fund illustrate the power of cross-sector collaboration to produce powerful change within our communities. “It supports the notion that we are all part of the same community, and when our community is in crisis, we can fix it together,” Freed said.