JPB Foundation funds study on affordable housing

That JPB Foundation has made a substantial grant to the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health to fund a three-year study examining the impact of social, environmental, and health-related services in affordable housing settings on residents’ health and quality of life.

The Columbia Mailman School is in partnership with the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical Practicethe Harvard University TH Chan School of Public Health, Enterprise Community Partners, Success Measures at NeighborWorks Americathe Community Opportunity Fundand Jonathan Rose Company Conduct research on 10 Jonathan Rose Companies on affordable housing. As institutional investors increasingly move into the affordable housing space as part of their growing commitment to ESG, the study aims to formally assess the co-benefits of green housing and a combination of social and health-related intervention components for residents of affordable housing in different locations.

Social, environmental, and health-related services in affordable housing settings are critical components of effective affordable housing practice, but robust research showing the measurable impact of such interventions on the well-being of residents is lacking. To address this need, in 2017 the partners assembled a multidisciplinary team of housing public health researchers and evaluators to examine the Jonathan Rose Companies’ model of communities of opportunity, which aims to transform housing as a pathway to inclusive health and well-being of the residents -being. The primary objective of the team’s initial study design research, completed in 2019, was to develop the methods and study protocols needed to assess the impact and cost-effectiveness of health and other interventions in affordable housing settings – a key planning step for a larger scale study. Building on the results of the study design work, the team will launch the first phase of a longitudinal study, titled Ecological Study of the Comparative Health Effects of Housing-based Interventions, to implement and formally evaluate the benefits of the community of opportunity model and affordable housing for residents in different locations .

“We are deeply grateful to the JPB Foundation for their generous support of critical research that identifies the key components of quality, affordable housing that promote the health and well-being of residents and the community,” he said Virginia Rau, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. “Our goal is to create ‘communities of opportunity’ where residents have access to the resources they need to thrive, and through this research to provide evidence of best practice to attract affordable housing providers and the to guide public health policy into the future.”

Central to the study is the Jonathan Rose Companies Communities of Opportunity model, which combines social and environmental investments in energy efficiency measures, decarbonization strategies, water conservation and resilience, and offers a range of housing-based interventions and amenities that better enrich lives for residents. These include community facilities, outdoor spaces, fitness centers, computer labs, medical exam rooms that provide access to onsite medical care, community kitchens, libraries, and onsite Resident Services Coordinators that connect residents with need-based programs and services to provide access to opportunities. The model entails a process of mutually engaged co-production in which residents, planners and academics have a voice and play a critical role in the design, implementation and sustainability of housing-related interventions.

“We welcome the opportunity to measure the impact of environmental factors on the health of residents of affordable housing and are grateful to the JPB Foundation for making this important work possible,” said Gary Adamkiewicz, Harvard University’s TH Chan School of Public Health. “Housing-based environmental interventions are a critical component of an effective public health strategy, and this study will help provide data measuring the impact of environmental sustainability strategies on the health and well-being of these communities.”

“It is vital that we understand the impact of health and environmental policies on the well-being of residents in affordable communities to ensure sector leaders have the knowledge to implement services that really work,” Nancy said Birkmeyer of the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice. “As this area has historically been under-researched, the support from the JPB Foundation represents an important step forward that will allow us to better understand what strategies affordable housing, service providers and investors should adopt to realize the benefits to maximize.”

Researchers will collect and analyze key health, well-being, environmental and community engagement data that will form the basis for future research to assess the impact of stable, affordable, green housing and a wide range of resident services. The study will be conducted in collaboration with JRCo residents and will be developed with significant input from community staff with direct, ongoing connections with residents. Researchers will conduct resident surveys and environmental monitoring at the properties to assess the positive health effects of reducing environmental hazards. After the data collection phase, researchers will analyze survey and environmental data and produce an accessible summary of the results that they can share with the properties, residents, stakeholders and other interested audiences. The team will work with staff and residents to help them leverage the data and build on the results to improve programming and resident opportunities.

“The study team is uniquely positioned to develop research-backed insights and translate them into actionable housing and community development strategies. We appreciate the continued support of the JPB Foundation in supporting such important research,” said Stephany De Scisciolo, vice president, Impact, Evaluation & Population Health at Enterprise Community Partners.

“We welcome the opportunity to draw on our expertise in helping the housing sector assess its impact on health and well-being through participatory approaches that involve residents in the study process,” said Maggie Grieve, vice president of performance measurement at NeighborWorks America. “We look forward to building on our work with our research partners and appreciate the support of the JPB Foundation.”

“The mission of the Community Opportunity Fund is to improve the lives of residents of affordable housing through the collaborative production of health, social services, education, culture, employment and recreation programs and the impact of such programs in influencing the future policies will be examined,” said Dawn Mottram, Community Opportunity Fund. “By measuring the results of these initiatives, we aim to arm policymakers with the data-backed insights they need to create communities of opportunity for all. We deeply thank the JPB Foundation for their generous support and look forward to continuing our important work together with our partners to develop research that supports this mission.”

“We are immensely grateful to the JPB Foundation for enabling this study, which will benefit a wide range of stakeholders including affordable housing providers, community officials and employees, investors looking to optimize their ESG results, and of course residents of affordable housing communities who do so can benefit from improved social, environmental and health-related services,” said Jonathan Rose, President of Jonathan Rose Companies. “We hope this will expand our understanding that housing not only increases home security, but also improves environmental sustainability and the health and well-being of occupants across the board. We look forward to collaborating with leading researchers to assess the impact of our efforts in the hope that our experience will guide the practice of industry stakeholders going forward.”

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