CVS invested $67 million in growing affordable housing options across the U.S. last year—and the healthcare giant said it’s hoping to significantly grow those investments in 2020.
In 2019, the investments made nearly 300 new permanent supportive housing units available, which target people who are impacted by domestic violence, chronic illness, homelessness and addiction, officials said.
CVS’ funding also backed the creation of 450 units for seniors, 59 for veterans and their families and 38 dedicated to Native Americans and their families. The efforts are a critical part of the company’s Destination: Health initiative, which targets social issues.
“I think housing is the anchor, and the spokes are all of the other things that help address the social determinants of health,” Garth Graham, M.D., vice president of community health and impact at CVS and president of the Aetna Foundation, told FierceHealthcare.
Aetna has been investing in housing for decades, and when the insurer was acquired in 2018 by CVS its new parent company “came across very strong” in backing further investments, Keli Savage, head of impact investment strategy at CVS, said.
CVS has already surpassed its 2019 investments this year, pledging $25 million to investments in Ohio and an additional $50 million in other parts of the country. Savage said the company is aspiring to put as much as $150 million into housing efforts by year-end.
Here’s a look at some of the specific investments CVS made in housing last year:
- A $25 million pledge to Red Stone Equity’s CA Regional Fund, an investment fund that backs either the construction or renovation of more than 500 units of affordable housing in five California cities.
- A collaboration with developers in Goshen, California, to operate Sequoia Commons, a 66-unit low-income community that opens on Friday. CVS will assist in offering on-site services to residents, including job training, health services and financial education.
- Investment in the transformation of an abandoned orphanage in San Luis Obispo, California, into a 33-unit permanent supportive housing facility for individuals with mental health issues.
- Investment in a 74-unit affordable housing complex in Fort Worth, Texas, with units set aside for veterans, farm workers, victims of domestic violence, people with disabilities, people diagnosed with HIV/AIDs or the homeless.
- Investment in a 240-unit Union City, Georgia, development for low- to moderate-income families.
Savage said CVS prioritizes investment opportunities that align with its broader goal of improving customers’ health. For example, housing investments can play a role in where CVS may plan new HealthHUB stores or where existing pharmacies and MinuteClinics can offer needed services.
“There definitely is a cross-pollination,” she said.
Graham said that concept is core to the company’s overall strategy around the social determinants—these issues are interconnected and must be addressed as such, he said.
“We engage local communities’ nonprofits and other organizations to help bring the benefits beyond just housing,” he said.