In these health centers, a physical comes with housing resources

California-based CDFI helps community health centers take a more holistic approach to the needs of their patients, from addiction resources to workforce development.

Barriers faced by low-income people, people from underrepresented groups, and people without health insurance when it comes to access to health care are well documented. For decades, CDFI Capital Impact Partners (CIP) has worked to break down these barriers by helping community health centers scale to meet a broader set of needs.

According to CIP, about one in 15 people rely on community health centers for medical, oral, mental health and addictions services. These organizations fill a critical need by helping low-income and uninsured individuals and families live healthier lives.

“We are focused on how to create dignity and choice for the most vulnerable members of our community who, due to their age, economic status and ability, have little or no access to care choices. says Candace Robinson, CDFI’s Director of Healthy Communities.

Like Medicaid and others As public funds that support health become more limited, CIP works to increase the number of community health care providers who can help build trust in the health system, especially among communities that have experienced a systemic racism in accessing and delivering care, says Robinson.

“With the advancement of community care and the recognition of the social determinants of health, we also want to advance the growth of small business entrepreneurs – especially in BIPOC communities – to develop health services and businesses within communities. communities that reflect their culture and values,” she adds.

Since CIP’s inception 40 years ago, CDFI has provided more than $980 million to more than 560 health centers across the country, reaching 3.4 million patients, said Kelly Bougere, senior operations manager. loan for the eastern region and national health care. Initially, CDFI provided debt financing to community health centers to expand their facilities and stabilize their operations, including construction, acquisition, working capital, and permanent loans.

That role has changed to help community health centers “reinvent their role in their communities,” Bougere says. As a result, many community health center borrowers have expanded their operations or developed partnerships to offer services beyond health care, such as housing, addiction treatment, workforce development and long-term support for aging people.

OLE Health in Northern California is an organization that CIP has supported through its California Primary Care Association Ventures loan program. OLE Health works with low-income, uninsured, and Spanish-speaking farm workers and others to host health fairs, evening health screenings so patients don’t have to miss work and other services.

Overall, CIP programs have created new opportunities for health organizations to partner with local residents, nonprofits, and other groups to fully understand gaps, challenges, and opportunities. to create a more efficient and sustainable health care delivery system for low-income people, says Robinson.

In the coming months, Bougere says the CDFI is “redouble its efforts” on its commitment to address social determinants of health, such as safe housing, discrimination, access to education and health care, employment opportunities, etc. This includes supporting organizations and businesses providing health care and addressing other aspects that impact health outcomes.

“We want to explore how, through a combination of capacity and capital, we can help communities both define desired health outcomes and support their development of the community infrastructure necessary to achieve sustainable outcomes,” said said Robinson.

CIP-funded organizations go beyond providing health care, says Bougere, they are “anchor points and safe spaces in their communities.” Organizations are connecting patients with other needed services like housing, workforce development, education, aging supports and services, COVID testing and vaccines, and more.

“When I visit a project that we have funded, I am always so amazed by the connection you feel between the community, the patients and the people who are there to serve them,” she says. “This is personally important to me because accessible health care highlights the opportunity for a person and a community to reach their full potential and aspirations. »

This story is part of our series, CDFI Futures, which explores the community development finance industry through the lens of equity, public policy and inclusive community development. The series is generously supported by Partners for the Common Good. Sign up for PCG’s CapNexus newsletter at

Erica Sweeney is a freelance journalist based in Little Rock, AR. She covers health, wellness, business and more. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, Good Housekeeping, HuffPost, Parade, Money, Insider and more.

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