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National Overview of Nonprofit Hospitals’ Community Benefit Programs to Address Housing


Celano, Annalise OMS-II; Keselman, Pauline OMS-II; Barley, Timothy OMS-II; Schnautz, Ryan OMS-II; Piller, Benjamin OMS-II; Nunn, Dylan OMS-II; Scott, Maliek OMS-II; Cronin, Cory PhD; Franz, Berkeley PhD


Housing is a critical social determinant of health that can be addressed through hospital-supported community benefit programming.

To explore the prevalence of hospital-based programs that address housing-related needs, categorize the specific actions taken to address housing, and determine organizational and community-level factors associated with investing in housing.

Research Design:
This retrospective, cross-sectional study examined a nationally representative dataset of administrative documents from nonprofit hospitals that addressed social determinants of health in their federally mandated community benefit implementation plans. We conducted descriptive statistics and bivariate analyses to examine hospital and community characteristics associated with whether a hospital invested in housing programs. Using an inductive approach, we categorized housing investments into distinct categories.

The main outcome measure was a dichotomous variable representing whether a hospital invested in one or more housing programs in their community.

Twenty percent of hospitals invested in one or more housing programs. Hospitals that addressed housing in their implementation strategies were larger on average, less likely to be in rural communities, and more likely to be serving populations with greater housing needs. Housing programs fell into 1 of 7 categories: community partner collaboration (34%), social determinants of health screening (9%), medical respite centers (4%), community social determinants of health liaison (11%), addressing specific needs of homeless populations (16%), financial assistance (21%), and targeting high-risk populations (5%).

Currently, a small subset of hospitals nationally are addressing housing. Hospitals may need additional policy support, external partnerships, and technical assistance to address housing in their communities.

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