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From homelessness to health: Our commitment

March 17, 2020 | Community

A photo of Kevin Duvall in his home.
After caring for his mother and losing his family home, Kevin Duvall faced a decade of homelessness. Today, as a resident of Sequoia Commons, he has security and a future.

Kevin Duvall was homeless. Today, thanks to CVS Health’s commitment to affordable housing, he has a home and a future.

After years of homelessness, food insecurity, and even drinking from gutters, 59-year-old Kevin Duvall still feels overwhelmed knowing he can cook his own food, pour a clean glass of water and eat a healthy meal in his own home.

Kevin cared for his mother for years and took a reverse mortgage on their house to make ends meet. When the bank reclaimed his home, and possessions, after her death, Kevin carried two photo albums in a backpack through a decade of homelessness.

Today, he lives at Sequoia Commons — a 66-unit affordable rental community in California’s San Joaquin Valley funded in part by CVS Health and built by Self-Help Enterprises – for residents who face challenges such as homelessness or chronic illness. “It's changed everything to have a place to live,” he says. “I was ready to give up.”

An aerial photo of the Sequoia Commons housing development neighborhood.
A photo of Keli Savage, Sr. Director Investment Strategy, and Chet Uma, CEO Aetna Better Health of CA., visiting Sequoia Commons for the grand opening February 14, 2020.
Keli Savage, Sr. Director Investment Strategy, and Chet Uma, CEO Aetna Better Health of CA., visit Sequoia Commons for the grand opening February 14, 2020.

Investing beyond the pharmacy

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 60% of a person’s life expectancy is influenced by everyday activities that take place outside the doctor’s office. These social determinants of health include access to affordable housing, reliable transportation, quality schools and health care.

“Among other things, research shows that a safe, secure home has a positive impact on behavioral health, childhood asthma and birth outcomes.” says Dr. Garth Graham, Vice President of Community Health and Impact at CVS Health. Social determinants of health, he says, can vary not just by zip code, but by destinations as specific as a neighborhood block or bus stop.

CVS Health is committed to reaching beyond its retail pharmacy counters to build healthy communities. “In 2019 we invested $67 million in affordable housing to create over 2,200 affordable homes in six states, including California,” explains Keli Savage, head of Impact Investment Strategy. “In 2020, we have committed an additional $75 million in investments.”

CVS Health is also collaborating with Self-Help and community partners to provide on-site resident services including English as a Second Language (ESL) classes, job training and on-site health and medical services like flu shots, screenings and health clinics.

Kevin understands better than most the inextricable link between affordable housing and the opportunity to live a healthier life. He says his new home enables him to be stable, self-sufficient and to care for his own health challenges as he ages. “I have a place to put my photo albums now,” he says, with pride.