May 16, 2024

BMC Hosts Political Leaders for Roundtable on Housing as Healthcare

Boston Medical Center
Governor Maura Healey, Lieutenant Governor Kim Driscoll, and Health and Human Services Secretary Kate Walsh spoke at a roundtable at Boston Medical Center on Thursday, May 9.
The discussion, focused around Governor Maura Healey's bond bill on housing, sparked conversation among healthcare leaders across the Commonwealth.

On Thursday, May 9, Boston Medical Center (BMC) hosted a roundtable on housing, one of a series of discussions Governor Maura Healey’s administration is leading in support of The Affordable Homes Act, a monumental piece of housing legislation that Healey filed earlier this year.  The legislation aims to address the Commonwealth’s high cost of living through myriad investments, chief among them is the allocation of $4 billion to preserve or create additional housing units, with a particular focus on affordable housing. BMC is already a key player in affordable housing, having made a critical investment of $6.5 million in community-led affordable housing efforts back in 2017.

Governor Healey, Lieutenant Governor Kim Driscoll, Housing Secretary Ed Augustus, and Health and Human Services Secretary and former Boston Medical Center (BMC) CEO Kate Walsh joined the roundtable; and leaders from hospitals, health systems, and community health centers across the Commonwealth convened to join the conversation. The Governor, Lieutenant Governor and both Secretary Augustus and Secretary Walsh had introductory remarks before turning it over to BMC hospital leadership and the rest of the attendees. BMCHS Health System president and CEO Alastair Bell, MD, MBA, vice president of Mission Thea James MD, MBA, and BMC pediatrician Megan Sandel, MD, MPH all spoke of the importance of housing as health.

Housing as a vaccine

Sandel, who is a leader in the BOS Collaborative housing initiative, spoke of the importance of healthcare institutions investing in housing, citing BMC’s own efforts and contributions to this pressing issue:

Megan Sandel, MD, MPH

“We think of housing as a vaccine because it keeps you healthy now and in the future. And so, as an academic medical center, we actually tested that. We tested with a randomized control trial. In 2016, a research policy network here at Boston Medical Center, paired an affordable housing unit with Boston Housing Authority with supportive services. What we saw was amazing and we published our results in Health Affairs in 2020.

After six months we saw that kids were 32% less likely to be in fair or poor health. Their parents significantly reduced anxiety and depression scores. Then, we took those results and we said, “We need to do this for complex adults.”

We built out a Living Well at Home Program, which Medicaid now is able to start to pay for. This is not just a great business model, this is the right thing to do. And so that’s why we are really excited about the bond bill because it meets the moment we are in today. Housing is not just about four walls; it’s about the communities that it is rooted in.”

After Bell, Sandel, and James gave remarks, Secretary Walsh opened the discussion to the rest of the attendees. You can watch the entire roundtable on the Governor’s YouTube.

Share on Social

Related Articles

Share on Social

About the Author

Katie Dillon

Katie Dillon is the digital editor of HealthCity.

Health equity news from Boston Medical Center

HealthCity is dedicated to sharing the most cutting-edge ideas for advancing health justice through inspiring stories, in-depth Q&As with equity pioneers, research news that could change the medical landscape, and more.