WOONSOCKET, R.I. — CVS Health will invest $12.4 million to build 60 new units of affordable housing in south Phoenix and expand its no-cost preventive health screening program, Project Health, in the greater Phoenix area, the company said Thursday.
The moves are part of what CVS Health describes as its commitment to provide $600 million over five years to address racial inequity and social determinants of health in Black communities.
“When people have access to high-quality, affordable housing and services like preventive screenings, it puts them in a better position to take care of their health and manage chronic disease,” said David Casey, senior vice president and Chief Diversity Officer, CVS Health. “As part of our commitment to address social justice and racial inequity, we’re addressing social determinants of health at the community level, which is where we can make a meaningful and lasting impact.”
The new, 60-unit Newsom Village development will be located at 4020-4032 S 9th Street in south Phoenix. Data compiled from the Arizona Health Services indicate approximately 79% of south Phoenix area residents identify as Black or Latino. Additionally, according to the Phoenix Housing Plan, more than 50% of south and west Phoenix area households pay greater than 30% of their income on housing costs. In comparison, less than 29% of households were housing cost-burdened in north Phoenix.
“Phoenix residents deserve housing options regardless of their income, and having a safe and comfortable place to live is important for people to be able to maintain their health,” said City of Phoenix Councilmember Carlos Garcia. “The investment from CVS Health in affordable housing and preventative health screenings in Phoenix is a positive step forward for residents who have historically experienced housing and health inequities in the area. It is even better that they have chosen to partner with UMOM, an organization that is already embedded in our south Phoenixcommunity.”
CVS Health is working with local nonprofit, UMOM New Day Centers, which is developing Newsom Village and is Arizona’s innovative leader in shelter, services, and housing for families, single women, and youth experiencing homelessness. In addition to shelter and services, UMOM currently has over 500 affordable housing units in the Valley, with an additional 72 units opening in Glendale this year. Newsom Village, the new 60-unit complex will offer two- and three-bedroom apartments at reduced rent to families with demonstrated need. The complex will also have units set aside for victims of domestic violence.
“There are far too many families who are either experiencing homelessness or are one step away from losing their home in the Valley,” said Jackson Fonder, CEO of UMOM New Day Centers. “With only 23 units available for every 100 households who need affordable housing, this partnership with CVS Health will make it possible for many people to have access to a place they can afford. Collaborations with corporations such as CVS Health are so important we could not serve as many families and individuals as we do without their help.”
CVS Health will also expand its Project Health no-cost biometric screening program to the greater Phoenix community. Project Health, which has historically offered screenings at CVS Pharmacy locations in select cities, will expand to the Phoenix area with a new mobile RV, which will bring these preventive screenings to communities across Phoenix. Project Health offers free biometric screenings to help identify chronic conditions before they become life-threatening illnesses. Valued at over $100, these no-cost screenings measure body mass index (BMI), blood pressure, glucose and total cholesterol. The screenings can detect early risks for chronic conditions like diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease. Following the screening, participants will have the opportunity to consult with nurse practitioners who can help explain the risks of certain measures from each screening, and how to take the appropriate next steps with a health care provider.
“Expanding Project Health to cities where we are addressing other social determinants of health, like housing, multiplies our impact in the community,” said Eileen Howard Boone, senior vice president of Corporate Social Responsibility and Philanthropy, CVS Health. “We anticipate being able to reach thousands of people locally and provide hundreds of thousands of dollars in free medical services in Phoenix in our first year.”
The company is planning to begin holding Project Health events in the early summer. Events will be held in areas of Phoenix with higher populations of uninsured and underinsured people, including at locations where UMOM is currently serving homeless and other people in need.
As the company works to address social determinants of health in the Phoenix area, it will also expand its national workforce initiatives program in Phoenix to help break the cycle of poverty by providing meaningful employment services and training to the community. This work will include expanding the company’s registered apprenticeship program and experience program to provide community members and job seekers with the tools they need to succeed in meaningful careers.