How CareSource Approaches Affordable Housing in Indiana

June 16th, 2020 | 5 min read

Smiling woman opening the door to her apartment making eye contact with the camera.

CareSource strives to make a concerted effort around addressing our members’ access to safe and affordable housing in order to enhance quality of life outcomes. By creating strategies, collecting information and using data analysis, our goal at CareSource is to improve housing options for all of our members.

We engage with neighborhoods from a housing standpoint in a unique way, based on a firm belief in the public good. If we help a community that has a large number of low-income individuals have better access to housing, education and food, our members will benefit from that help and be healthier in the long run. We prioritize community impact, as this leads to more long-term sustainability.

As a nonprofit healthcare company, CareSource has to look for creative solutions to address affordable housing funding while offsetting costs. For-profit companies have liabilities to pay to the federal government, and they can do this by buying low-income housing tax credits. In fact, this is the main way affordable housing is funded in the U.S. Nonprofits like CareSource don’t have the same levers that our for-profit competitors may have.

Successful Housing Partnerships in Indiana

CareSource is pursuing creative and complex funding sources to aid developers in closing gaps in financing. We have already experienced traction by partnering with the National Low Income Housing Coalition or LISC in Indianapolis, and it’s been a mutually beneficial process for all involved parties. LISC has partnerships in specific neighborhoods in the city in order to create plans and visions of what their ideal neighborhoods could look like. For example, improved neighborhoods could have added amenities, as well as opportunities for residents to reach higher levels of economic mobility. Our collaboration with LISC selects one neighborhood to be the center point of the initiative, then engages with that neighborhood by learning what they do and what motivates them.

“LISC is interested in addressing the social determinants of health for residents in Indianapolis, and we know we can’t do it alone, so we intentionally pursue a neighborhood-led collective impact approach,” said Tedd Grain, the executive director for LISC Indianapolis. “CareSource is an important partner as they creatively invest and deliver programs that directly affect these conditions that lead to poor health. We are excited at deepening this long-term partnership and see deep positive dividends for neighborhood residents as a result.”

Typically, CareSource and LISC have seen that neighborhoods want more affordable housing, grocery stores and affordable childcare. CareSource’s goal is to figure out a neighborhood’s top needs and look for unique solutions to help that community reach its goals. CareSource’s highly beneficial relationship with LISC in Indiana is one which will be documented and used as a model for other communities, as there are LISC’s in other states as well. When thinking about future CareSource partnerships, the ideal housing partner is one that wants to engage with each community and with CareSource and is open to long-standing innovation and learning.

Understanding the Indiana Housing Market

The CareSource housing program in Indiana is in its very early stages. Because of this widespread variation in housing, there may be more housing issues in Indiana than in other states. In fact, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, there is a shortage of affordable rental homes that are available to extremely low income households (ELI) in Indiana. These households’ incomes are at or below the poverty guideline or 30% of their area median income (AMI). Many of these households are severely cost burdened, spending more than half of their income on housing. CareSource is looking at ways to help these households, especially in rural Indiana communities in some of the state’s northern cities.

CareSource is actively partnering with housing groups at the state, local and grassroots level in Indiana and has applied for funding for a few opportunities in the state. Some of the opportunities include a partnership with the Federal Home Loan Bank (FHLB), and a partnership on a Low-Income Housing Tax Credit application. CareSource has participated in Affordable Housing Investment Funds in other communities and is looking to participate in similar funds in Indiana.

Indiana’s neighboring MSAs capture large areas of the state, but since much of the available funds flow to larger cities, this then diverts capital and emphasis away from places that could benefit from these funds within the state. By partnering with organizations that are focused on Indiana specifically, we have found that companies are interested in engaging with CareSource Indiana at this level. As a nonprofit health plan, we focus on housing projects differently than other for-profit groups. CareSource looks at housing holistically for the benefit of residents, including examining the availability of grocery stores, parks and other elements that encourage residents to lead a healthy life.

Read more about how housing can affect health.