Overcoming Health Care Needs Through Housing

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After a run of challenging life events, Clint was left homeless having to manage several health conditions, like diabetes, while living in a tent for about a year. He struggled to find food and take care of himself as he moved between a park and a local shelter in Milwaukee, WI. That all changed earlier this year, when he was given a safe place to store his medications, cook his food and lay his head at night – his own apartment. 

“Having my own place, I feel like a person again instead of feeling like an animal living outside,” Clint said.

Access to safe and affordable housing is one of the greatest barriers to better health, and is something an estimated 14.5 million Americans struggle with. In Milwaukee, finding an affordable place to live can be difficult. A recent report by the Wisconsin Policy Forum found that the average household can’t afford the median rent. On top of that, roughly half of those who rent are spending more than 30 percent of their total income to do so. 

“Having ample opportunities to affordable housing with on-site support services for residents, warrants continued attention and support,” said Ellen Sexton, CEO, UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Wisconsin. “That’s why UnitedHealthcare is helping redefine what constitutes health care, through a national initiative to remove social barriers, such as housing.”

UnitedHealthcare and community partners came together to turn a vacant warehouse into an apartment building for those in need of an affordable place to live. Seven04Place, the 60-unit development, features on-site amenities such as a multipurpose community center, fitness room, on-site property offices, surface parking, indoor bike and resident storage, plus a washer and dryer in each unit. The new community development is easily accessible to public transportation and a 10-minute bike ride to downtown Milwaukee. 

For Clint, it’s given him the space and amenities he needs to get back on his feet.

“This place is great because you got air conditioning, heat, you got free WiFi, free cable. What more could you ask for?” he said. “I can go to the doctor regularly now. I can do the things I need to do.”

UnitedHealthcare provided $6.3 million through their partnership with Cinnaire and the Minnesota Equity Fund. Since 2011, UHC has invested $400 million to build more than 80 affordable-housing communities to help people live healthier lives.