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An Atlanta hospital takes on the city’s housing crisis

Originally posted on NPR.

BIELLO: Mercy Care in Atlanta is not alone. In the last decade or so, several health care systems across the U.S. have made significant investments in affordable housing. Boston Medical Center has made no-interest loans to help developers create more than 1,300 units of affordable housing. Megan Sandel is Boston Medical’s place-based investing lead. She says they’ve primarily served people who don’t have stable housing.

MEGAN SANDEL: We have many patients that would keep coming back through the emergency department and hospital simply because they didn’t have a place to take their insulin or to plug in their CPAP machine at night.

BIELLO: But with a stable place to live, she says those patients are less likely to use the ER for preventable ailments. Connecting these patients to affordable housing could even save money. UPMC Health Plan in Pittsburgh has contributed to loan funds that help developers complete affordable housing projects. UPMC Health Plan’s Kevin Progar says they compared the cost of patients’ ER visits before and after placing them in affordable homes.