NYC Health + Hospitals, seeking to address the social determinants of health, has backed the construction and future management of a housing project for low-income mental health patients on the campus of one of its hospitals.
The largest public health system in the nation is partnering with local nonprofit Comunilife, which provides specialized affordable housing, to create a six-story building on an underused piece of land at its Woodhull Medical Center location in North Brooklyn. NYC Health + Hospitals leased the plot to Comunilife, which will construct 89 studio apartments for low-income residents, 54 of which will be designated for income-eligible residents living with mental illness. The project is expected to be done by 2018.
The building is part of the health system's larger transformation plan, designed to address the social determinants of health in New York City. And at the heart of this partnership is a mutual desire to tackle the increasing number of homeless patients stuck in the cycle of readmission to the emergency department, many of whom are living with mental illness.
“It’s about trying to meet the needs of people where they live,” says Ram Raju, M.D., president and CEO, NYC Health + Hospitals, and member of the American Hospital Association board of trustees. “Health care leaders have to be social change agents — this is an example of that.”