Hospital and Community Partnerships Expanding Across NJ
NJ leaders hear about new HMFA funding for homes and more resources to address health and housing disparities at Summit


Over 200 attendees participated in the sixth annual Healthy Homes and Communities Summit hosted by the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey (the Network). Community developers, health care professionals and housing advocates convened to share resources and best practices to address health, wealth and racial disparities that disproportionately impact Black and Brown residents.

“Health outcomes and housing security are deeply and inextricably linked,” said Staci Berger, president and chief executive officer of the Network. “We developed this Summit to build strong, healthy communities. We know it takes more than individual organizations, government entities or private investors. It takes collaboration between partners who are invested in solutions, working together.”

In her remarks, NJ Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (NJHMFA) Executive Director Melanie Walter announced a commitment of an additional $10 million to finance the Hospital Partnership Subsidy Program, supporting the completion of 2-3 more projects. The program matches funding contributions from participating hospitals collaborating with community development organizations to provide affordable rental apartments for lower income families, as well as accessible homes with supportive and wrap-around services for residents with special needs. Walter also announced that the agency will be looking to partner with community organizations that provide property rehab and outfitting services.

“Partnering with our community resources and the stakeholders who best know the area, we're working on defining the neighborhoods around our hospital subsidy program properties and beginning those neighborhood level interventions,” said Walter. “Any way that we can help people better control their environment, giving them stability, and helping them find the resources to meet those basic needs, is going to lead to better outcomes for those individuals and the community at large.”

Dr. Chris T. Pernell, chief strategic integration and health equity officer for University Hospital in Newark, delivered a dynamic keynote address, focusing on the role of the healthcare sector in addressing housing and racial health disparities. Dr. Pernell’s presentation, “Hospitals as Hubs of Racial Healing: An Antiracism, Equity and Inclusion Imperative,” described University Hospital’s efforts to deliver inclusive community integrated care.

“It is not just access to care or quality of care, it is also what is being done around the social and structural determinants that will determine health outcomes,” said Dr. Pernell. “Addressing the multiple determinants of health, eliminating racism and other forms of oppression as well as partnering with the community are imperatives to improving health equity, and housing sits firmly at the nexus of those imperatives.”

Leaders from New Jersey’s guiding philanthropic organizations participated in a discussion about the importance and challenges of funding the intersection of healthy communities, housing security and climate action. Panelists included Maisha Simmons, director of NJ Grantmaking, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; Tanuja Dehne, president & chief executive officer, Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation; Andy Fraizer, executive director, Community Foundation of South Jersey; and Dan Fatton, NJ state director & consultant, Energy Foundation. The group addressed racial disparities in health outcomes and other challenges through operating support, programmatic investments and development capital to create healthy homes and support mechanisms in neighborhoods across NJ.

The conversation on racial disparities and housing justice continued during a roundtable discussion featuring Lieutenant Governor and Department of Communities Commissioner Sheila Y. Oliver and Assembly Housing Chair Yvonne Lopez (D-Middlesex) and hosted by the Network, Fair Share Housing Center and Salvation and Social Justice. Great strides have been made to address housing discrimination since the implementation of the Fair Housing Act, however, access to quality, affordable homes continues to be a challenge for low-income residents and residents of color.

“The resistance to affordable homes in this state is steeped in stereotypical mythology and racism,” said Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver. “The entire concept that low and moderate income people are not entitled to live in a safe, clean and productive environment is a myth we have been fighting to dispel. As DCA Commissioner, opportunity begins with access to housing. The programs we have established are going to make a difference for people.”

The Summit also included a session exploring the role of the arts in advancing healthy communities as well as a session on strategies to secure safe, healthy, and affordable homes as the primary tool for stabilizing the lives of residents. Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-Middlesex), a prime sponsor of a sweeping legislative bill package targeting hunger, kicked off a panel on ending food deserts in NJ.

“When people aren’t adequately fed or don’t have access to nutritious foods, it means they’re not able to live up to their full potential. People’s health, their social and economic wellness, is critically tied to the food they eat,” said Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-Middlesex). “Over the next six years, $240 million will be made available to strengthen food security and combat food deserts in 50 designated communities. Economic development can only be as strong as the support we give our most vulnerable.”

The 2022 Healthy Homes and Communities Summit was made possible through the generous support of Valley National Bank, the National Alliance of Community and Economic Development Associations, Solar Landscape, TD Bank, Santander, Region Nine Housing Corporation, and Triple C Housing Corporation.

To view the 2022 Healthy Homes and Communities Summit, visit

About the Housing and Community Development Network of NJ
The Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey is the statewide association of more than 270 community development corporations, individuals and other organizations that support the creation of affordable homes, economic opportunities, and strong communities. For more information on the Network, visit

For more information: Nina Rainiero
(609) 393-3752 x1200
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