Kaiser Permanente pledges $200 million for U.S. affordable housing; Baltimore is eligible

Kaiser Permanente pledges $200 million for U.S. affordable housing; Baltimore is eligible

Calling it one of the biggest private investments ever in affordable housing, Kaiser Permanente pledged to spend as much as $200 million to house the poor, middle class, and homeless across the country.

Officials with the nonprofit health care provider were to announce the investment Friday in Washington, D.C. before mayors and business leaders. Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh was scheduled to attend.

“We hope our commitment creates a broader national conversation on homelessness and encourages other companies to join with us,” Kaiser Permanente CEO Bernard Tyson said in a statement.

Affordable housing projects in Baltimore and elsewhere are eligible for the money. But unlike similar campaigns, the money won’t be handed down in grants to those who apply.

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Instead, Kaiser Permanente will assemble an advisory board that will work with regional offices to identify and invest in projects. Along with the social goodwill, organizers expect some financial return on their investments. Such factors will determine how much money is invested in any city.

The money will be invested in projects to provide housing and services for the homeless, to make affordable homes healthier and environmentally friendly, and to prevent low and middle class families from being pushed out of gentrifying neighborhoods.

The new, good homes will lead to healthier families, they say. The nonprofit provides healthcare for more than 12 million people in eight states, including Maryland. Affordable housing projects in these states are eligible.

Organizers said they will provide additional details about their investment plans in the coming weeks. The health care provider also announced it was joining a coalition of mayors and business leaders working to advance federal policies on affordable housing.

An estimated 600 people sleep on Baltimore streets on a typical night, and thousands more lack stable housing.

Across Maryland, more than 31,000 people received homeless services last year, according to the state’s annual report on homelessness. The annual number of homeless increased 4.6 percent last year, according to the report.

Maryland families find themselves on the streets because of low wages and a scarcity of affordable homes. The cost of living in Maryland has increased in the last two years. The state has climbed from the 11th to the eighth most expensive, according to the report.

A one-bedroom apartment in Maryland cost an average of $1,219 a month last year, the report found. Federal authorities estimate Maryland has a shortage of more than 90,000 affordable apartments.

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