Since announcing the company’s commitment to invest nearly $600 million over five years to address racial inequality, CVS Health has been focused on ways to further advance employee, community and public policy initiatives that address inequality faced by the Black community and other disenfranchised communities.
Because studies have shown that your zip code can have as much impact on your health as your genetic code, CVS Health is focusing on social determinants of health in Black and at-risk communities. Increasing access to housing and health care to assure all Americans, especially to those that are more at-risk, is imperative to improve health outcomes.
Most recently, the company kicked-off of this commitment with a $13.7 million investment to help renovate 230 low-income housing units at the Rosewind apartments in Columbus, Ohio. These funds will also be used to make significant improvements to the local community center and support new community programs in the area.
This investment builds on the company’s longstanding commitment to diversity, including social determinants of health, with a particular emphasis on increasing access to affordable housing, which is inextricably linked to health. Access to health care, housing and healthy food can significantly impact rates of chronic disease and other health outcomes, with average life spans varying by up to 20-30 years in communities that are just a few miles apart.
Within the Rosewind complex in the South Linden neighborhood of Columbus, 95% of residents are Black and have an average annual household income of less than $17,000. Average life expectancy in South Linden is just under 70 years – more than seven years shorter than the average in all of Franklin County, which includes Columbus and certain neighboring communities. And there are 25.7 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in South Linden compared to the 8.5 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in Franklin County.
The renovations, as well as new community programming funded by CVS Health, will provide comprehensive local support to residents, including the following new on-site programs Health and Wellness programming, on-site health screenings and COVID-19 testing, an educational cooking series, community programs and maternal programs.
In addition, CVS Health will also establish a new program at Rosewind as part of its ongoing workforce initiatives to provide employment services and training to the community. These workforce development programs will focus on incorporating empowerment programs and build local partnerships that will help community members achieve meaningful employment opportunities.
Since 1997, CVS Health and Aetna, a CVS Health company, have invested more than $1 billion in affordable housing and community initiatives. In 2019, the company invested $67 million in affordable housing across the country, and the company plans to exceed that amount over the next five years to help address housing insecurities and promote community health improvement. Investments in affordable housing, as well as collaborations with community groups in these areas, help provide support to those who need it most.