By Charles A. Richman
Executive Director, New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency
An exciting and innovative new partnership is underway in New Jersey between the Murphy Administration and health care systems. The Hospital Partnership Subsidy Program facilitates hospital investment in affordable and supportive housing in their communities, including homes for residents with special needs who are frequent users of emergency services.
We began this partnership program in 2018 with a very simple premise: Housing is health care.
We know that safe, affordable homes for lower and middle-income families provide a stable environment and help communities grow. At the same time, we also know that permanent supportive housing for at-risk residents dealing with chronic illnesses - who often homeless - and who are frequent visitors to hospital emergency departments can help put them on a path to maintaining better health.
As anchor institutions, hospitals can play a leading role in the creation of affordable housing in their communities. They also can take specific measures to help reduce the health and hospital costs associated with the frequent use of emergency services and provide the supportive housing needed to sustain healthy living.
In less than a year, we have announced our first hospital agreement with St. Joseph’s Health, which will bring affordable and supportive apartments to the Paterson community.
The St. Joseph’s partnership will create one- to three-bedroom apartments affordable to families, potentially including hospital employees, as well as homes and services for at-risk individuals and families. The project will be built in an Opportunity Zone a short block from the hospital, and the developer will be Paterson-based New Jersey Community Development Corporation.
Our partnership program is the first to be created, financed and led by a state housing agency, and we are working with other hospitals to make additional partnership announcements in the near future.
Under the program, NJHMFA is providing capital subsidy which will be matched dollar for dollar with funds from participating hospitals to provide affordable apartments for low- and moderate-income families. A key component of the program requires that the projects include apartments set aside for special needs residents and/or individuals who are frequent users of hospital emergency department services. In addition, CSH has provided technical assistance to hospital partners to navigate housing development and learn the best practices of providing services in supportive housing to help future residents achieve health, stability and be on their way to thriving in the community.
This partnership program has drawn great support from hospitals throughout the state, and has also generated interest from other states seeking information on replicating the program.
Housing as a key variable to maintaining good health cannot be underestimated. We are proud that New Jersey is showing how state government can lead the way.