Citizens within the Reno-Sparks region are well aware of the housing crisis in our midst; whether purchasing or renting, finding affordable housing here can be difficult. But with supply low and demand high, for low-income individuals and families in this region the dream of securing a home or apartment can simply be out of reach.
As a Nevada health insurer, SilverSummit Healthplan is in a unique position to understand and address the intersection between health care and housing. There are other factors that contribute to an individual’s health and wellness, beyond access to medical care, including housing insecurity. These Social Determinants of Health (SDoH) occur entirely outside of the provider’s office.
SilverSummit partners with communities to help deliver innovative solutions. On May 25, 2021, the Washoe County Board of County Commissioners approved an agreement with the Community Foundation of Northern Nevada to establish the Washoe County Affordable Housing Trust Fund, where SilverSummit was the first partner to provide funding.
“I am pleased that with a $75,000 investment, SilverSummit has committed to be the first organization in Nevada to invest in Washoe County’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund,” said Eric Brown Washoe County Manager.
“This commitment allows the County to move forward to incentivize the development of affordable housing projects, which are lacking in our community,” continued Brown. “By strategically addressing behavioral health and the needs of individuals experiencing homelessness, SilverSummit has proven to understand our regional challenges, and will be an important partner in helping us overcome community issues. I look forward to working with SilverSummit Healthplan to continue to advance our community for years to come.”
The collaborative efforts of Washoe County and the cities of Reno and Sparks, respectively, have resulted in creative and sustainable strategies to improve the availability of transitional and affordable housing. A cornerstone of these initiatives is the public/private partnerships currently underway in the region.
“The creation of the Washoe County Affordable Housing Trust Fund in 2019 was the first step to creating a powerful local tool to make meaningful progress in our affordable housing shortage at the local level,” said Christine Hess, Executive Director of the Nevada Housing Coalition. “The seed investment by SilverSummit brings timely resources to this tool. Research has shown for every dollar invested in trusts of this kind, affordable housing projects receive an eight-fold increase in total funding.”
“SilverSummit knows what we know – housing is healthcare,” added Hess. “We are excited for this next phase and look forward to supporting the County and its efforts to grow its capacity for locally driven affordable housing solutions.”
“SilverSummit Healthplan is delighted to be the founding investor of the Washoe County Affordable Housing Trust,” said Eric Schmacker, Plan President and CEO, SilverSummit Healthplan. “With this initial funding in place, Washoe County, and its collaborative partner cities, can secure the support of like-minded industry leaders who know that public-private partnerships are key to moving the needle on the housing issues that affect the entire community.”
“SilverSummit applauds the county for its innovative approach to offering more affordable housing options to its residents. These commitments support the development of needed affordable housing projects in Washoe County, and we encourage other organizations to follow suit,” Schmacker continued.
Working with community partners like Northern Nevada Hopes, SilverSummit Healthplan provides access to a full range of available housing services, from local staff working directly with community organization who provide direct services, to investing in bridge and transitional housing, such as the plan has done with a recent $100,000 investment to the Tiny Homes Project.
“Investing in affordable housing is investing in the health of the community,” said Schmacker. Permanent housing is a common goal for all those working with individuals who experience homelessness, and SilverSummit supports options to ensure residents have choices as they move through the housing continuum.
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