Press Release

Press Release  Healey-Driscoll Administration Gathers Health Care Leaders to Discuss Housing’s Impact on Public Health

Officials and subject matter experts discuss how to safeguard public health, recruit and retain health care workforce
For immediate release:
  • Governor Maura Healey and Lt. Governor Kim Driscoll
  • Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities
  • Executive Office of Health and Human Services

Media Contact   for Healey-Driscoll Administration Gathers Health Care Leaders to Discuss Housing’s Impact on Public Health

Karissa Hand, Press Secretary

Secretary Augustus, Governor Healey, Lt. Governor Driscoll and Secretary Walsh at a roundtable discussion with health care stakeholders

Boston — Today, Governor Maura T. Healey and Lieutenant Governor Kim Driscoll met with health care leaders to discuss the impact of the high housing costs on public health, as well as the industry’s ability to recruit and retain a talented workforce to provide care. 

Health and Human Service Secretary Kate Walsh and Housing and Livable Communities Secretary Ed Augustus led the discussion hosted by Boston Medical Center. The meeting pulled in subject matter experts from across the health care industry who shared both the challenges hospitals and other health care facilities face in finding and retaining workers due to a lack of affordable housing and the impact housing insecurity has on healthcare outcomes and public health.   

“Massachusetts has the world’s best medical providers, institutions and researchers. But if we want to continue to recruit and retain the talented workforce that makes this possible, we need to address the high cost of housing in our state,” said Governor Healey. “Access to affordable and stable housing is also a matter of public health and health equity. Our Affordable Homes Act proposes significant investments that would have a positive impact on residents’ health, including rehabbing our public housing stock, expanding supportive housing, and decarbonizing housing in environmental justice communities.” 

Participants discussed how the high cost of housing and limited availability is impacting the health care workforce with some facing difficulties in hiring and filling important shifts. The lack of affordable housing also presents challenges in recruiting recent college graduates who are moving to other states where housing is less expensive.  

“Housing is a workforce issue and a public health issue,” said Lieutenant Governor Driscoll. “Study after study has shown the enormous influence stable housing has on the health of individuals and their ability to succeed. As we build solutions to our housing crunch, we’re also giving Massachusetts residents the ability to lead healthier and happier lives.”  

Without stable housing, it is very hard to access employment, nutritious food and other critical needs. It’s also exceptionally difficult to stabilize major physical and behavioral health conditions. 

Moderated by Secretaries Walsh and Augustus, the Housing is Health Care roundtable included participants from the Massachusetts Health and Hospital Association, Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers, the Association for Behavioral Health, the Massachusetts Public Health Association, Boston Medical Center, Boston Health Care for the Homeless, Pine Street Inn, MassPACE and various hospital CEO’s from across the state.  

“It’s almost impossible for individuals and families to thrive and live healthy, productive lives when they are not adequately and safely housed,” said Secretary of Health and Human Services Kate Walsh. “Affordable, accessible housing allows people to prioritize their health care needs and the needs of their families, while also creating vibrant, healthier, safer and more productive communities across Massachusetts.” 

A key component of the administration’s housing plan includes the $4 billion Affordable Homes Act, filed by the governor with the Legislature last fall. These investments go directly toward programs with the maximum positive impact on health. Those include $1.4 billion to rehabilitate the state’s public housing stock, the production of tens of thousands of units of affordable housing, creation of a flexible supportive housing pool and the creation of net-zero clean energy housing.  

In addition to an $800 million investment in the Affordable Housing Trust Fund and historic investments in the public housing stock, the Affordable Homes Act will commit $100 million to support middle-income housing production. The mixed-income housing will create rental housing that is affordable for households whose incomes are too high for subsidized housing but are priced out by market rents. The bill also includes $100 million for the CommonWealth Builder to build affordable homeownership opportunities for our workforce.  

“Three years ago, during the COVID-19 outbreak, we were calling our health care workers heroes, and now those same heroes can’t afford a place to live in Massachusetts,” said Secretary of Housing and Livable Communities Edward Augustus. "They need our help now in making Massachusetts more affordable. Likewise, we know children who lack a stable place to call home, struggle more with their homework and face increased stress and anxiety. We need and can do better for them as well. The actions we take today to provide more housing and build livable communities will have positive ramifications for generations to come.” 

Earlier this year, Massachusetts was selected as one of eight states to participate in a new federal initiative, the Housing and Services Partnership Accelerator. Massachusetts plans to use the Accelerator to create a map of housing-related services for people experiencing homelessness, to explore the ways that Medicaid and other federal funding can be leveraged in the implementation of a permanent supportive housing pool fund and to study the costs of building a permanent supportive housing program. 

The roundtable was part of the administration’s statewide Housing Campaign to call attention to the urgent need to lower housing costs throughout Massachusetts and the ways in which the high cost of housing impacts businesses. Events earlier this week focused on identifying housing solutions with the business industry, ending veteran homelessness and the Healey-Driscoll Administration’s partnership with cities and towns to find solutions. 

Statements of Support:  

Alastair Bell, MD, MBA, President & CEO of Boston Medical Center Health System: 

“Boston Medical Center thanks Governor Healey for convening health leaders at BMC for this important discussion on the inextricable link between housing and health. At BMC, we see the impact that homelessness and housing insecurity has on the health of people across the communities that we serve. BMC is proud to have supported affordable housing initiatives and community partnerships that help people achieve their housing goals. Investing in housing, as the Governor’s Affordable Homes Act proposes, is an investment in the health and wellbeing of our communities.” 

Anne Klibanski, MD, President & CEO, Mass General Brigham: 

“At Mass General Brigham, we are committed to closing health disparities through our United Against Racism initiative and integrated community health strategy, which recognize the importance of social determinants of health, like housing. The evidence is clear that a lack of access to housing is linked to inequitable health outcomes, which is why we are committed to working with government and community partners to expand access to safe, quality, and affordable housing. We are grateful to Governor Healey and her administration for advancing the Affordable Homes Act which would help our state boost housing production and improve affordability.”  

Steve Walsh, President & CEO, Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association: 

“Affordable housing has the power to improve every aspect of Massachusetts healthcare: the vibrancy of its workforce, the stability of its communities, and the everyday wellbeing of its patients. Our hospitals and health systems are proud to partner with the Healey-Driscoll Administration on this urgent priority – including through a nation-leading commitment to screen patients for their housing needs at the point of care. This is a chance for Massachusetts to lead once again on an issue that matters to the health of its community members.” 

Michael Curry, President & CEO, Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers: 

"Our health center members in every corner of the Commonwealth universally tell us that one of their top concerns from a patient care and workforce sustainability perspective is housing.  The interconnectedness between health care access, workforce challenges and housing costs puts our very care model, invented just a short drive away at Columbia Point, at risk when health center workers cannot afford to live here, and patients' housing needs, a critical part of the social determinants of health, are not met. Without housing or health center staff, it is even harder for patients to get the care they need, exacerbating inequalities and worsening health outcomes, despite rising health care spending. Health centers are so grateful to the Healey administration for taking this issue on. It is a health issue, a workforce issue, a racial justice issue, and more." 

Lynnette Watkins, MD, President & COO, Cooley Dickinson Hospital: 

“Cooley Dickinson Hospital understands that housing is a key social determinant of health that impacts the communities we serve. Our recent community health needs assessment indicated that more than half of Pioneer Valley residents are housing-burdened, with major disparities by race. Through Mass General Brigham’s United Against Racism effort, we are committed to advancing solutions that improve access to affordable housing, working with partners across the commonwealth to advocate for policy solutions. We thank Governor Healey and her team for filing the Affordable Homes Act, which will help us build healthier communities through affordable housing.”  

Dr. Shari Nethersole, Vice President, Community Health & Engagement, Boston Children’s Hospital: 

“Stable housing is the most basic element of healthy child development.  It sets the stage for success in school and in life.” 

Michael Dandorph, Chief Executive Officer, Tufts Medicine: 
“Our healthcare professionals see first-hand the heavy toll housing insecurity plays on those living in the communities we serve each and every day. Affordable and stable housing is critical to our ability to improve and sustain the health and well-being of our most at-risk populations.” 

Denise De Las Nueces, MD MPH, Interim CEO and Chief Medical Officer, Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program: 

“Housing is a fundamental human right, and the absence of housing deeply impacts health outcomes. At Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program, we witness the deep impact of housing insecurity on the physical and emotional well-being of the patients we serve. People experiencing homelessness are at increased risk of infectious diseases (as the COVID pandemic has so vividly demonstrated), disability and death from exposure to extreme temperatures, and traumatic injuries and are often the targets of violence. These profound risks are often compounded by the burden of chronic medical disease, severe mental illness, and addiction.  We are grateful to the Healey-Driscoll administration for the commitment to expanding affordable housing in the Commonwealth. We advocate for increased federal funding to allow states such as ours the capacity to expand affordable housing units and ensure equitable access to housing for all individuals and families facing housing insecurity.” 

Michael K. Lauf, MBA, President and CEO, Cape Cod Healthcare and CEO, Cape Cod Hospital: 

“At Cape Cod Healthcare, we are committed to addressing key issues that impact the health of our community.  As the largest employer on Cape Cod, we understand the impact the lack of affordable year-round housing has on providing accessible care to all members of our community including those in our underserved populations.  The housing issue has a direct impact on our ability to attract and retain talent to provide the services necessary to meet the needs of our community however we continue to innovate and adapt to ensure no disruption.” 

Jay Trivedi, CEO, Upham's Corner Health Center: 

As CEO of Upham's Community Care, I'm proud to emphasize the critical link between housing and health, especially for seniors. Despite the synergy between Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) and housing, Boston faces a shortage of affordable units, prompting our advocacy efforts. Through initiatives like co-located supportive housing units and partnerships with developers, Upham's PACE bridges healthcare and housing. We're dedicated to advocating for expanded affordable housing, ensuring all residents, particularly seniors, can thrive in their communities.” 

Brenda Rodriguez, CEO, Lynn Community Health Center: 

“There exists a clear correlation between unstable housing and health outcomes for patients at the Lynn Community Health Center. From poor environmental conditions in homes, such as old mattresses and mold that impact respiratory health especially childhood asthma, to temporary housing situations that hinder individuals managing chronic conditions like diabetes due to lack inadequate refrigeration for medication storage, to people who are unhoused and the consequence it has on care continuity, the effects of unstable housing are far-reaching. These challenges not only place significant pressure on health centers’ care delivery models but also create stressors for the entire community. For instance, students may struggle to focus in school, and civic engagement can suffer. Moreover, the essential patient-provider relationship, which contributes to positive health outcomes, is affected. To address this issue, we must not just focus on building housing, but also investing in our community.” 

Dr. Eric Dickson, President and CEO, UMass Memorial Health: 

“As a safety net provider, we see firsthand the impact that safe, affordable housing – or the lack thereof – has on the communities and patients we serve. We applaud the Healey-Driscoll Administration for continuing to engage in meaningful policy and industry conversations that address housing sustainability and stability as critical to the health and wellbeing of patient populations across Massachusetts.” 

Michael R. Knapik, Vice President of Government & Community Relations, Baystate Health:

Baystate Health looks forward to working with the Healey-Driscoll Administration to ensure passage of theAffordable Homes Act as a means of expanding the inventory, affordability, and quality of housing in western Massachusetts.  We are grateful to the Governor for her Administration’s leadership in this critical public policy issue. Our Baystate hospitals anchor important Gateway Communities in our region of the state and ensuring our workforce and patients have access to quality housing is a critical component of our mission.”



Media Contact   for Healey-Driscoll Administration Gathers Health Care Leaders to Discuss Housing’s Impact on Public Health

  • Governor Maura Healey and Lt. Governor Kim Driscoll 

    Since taking office, Governor Healey and Lieutenant Governor Driscoll’s top priority has been building a Massachusetts that’s competitive, equitable, and affordable for every family, worker, and business.
  • Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities 

    The Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities (EOHLC) was established in 2023 to create more homes and lower housing costs for Massachusetts residents. EOHLC also distributes funding to municipalities, oversees the state-aided public housing portfolio, and operates the state's Emergency Family Shelter (EA) program.
  • Executive Office of Health and Human Services 

    The Executive Office of Health and Human Services is comprised of 11 agencies and the MassHealth program. EOHHS seeks to promote the health, resilience, and independence of the nearly one in every three residents of the Commonwealth we serve. Our public health programs touch every community in the Commonwealth.
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