Case Study: CommonBond Communities

CommonBond Communities is the Upper Midwest’s largest nonprofit provider of affordable housing with services. It develops, owns, or manages more than 6,800 affordable rental apartments and townhomes throughout 57 cities in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa. CommonBond serves more than 11,700 people every year, including youth, families, veterans, formerly homeless people, older adults and people with disabilities. In 2017, CommonBond’s board approved a three-year strategic plan that included the major goal of maximizing its resident services. Among the key strategies for achieving this goal was to build health and housing collaborations.

Key Findings: CommonBond has resident service coordinators in approximately two-thirds of its sites who build relationships with residents in their buildings and are trusted sources of information. The resident service coordinators’ deep understanding of resident needs allows them to provide better access to services, which is critical to improving residents’ health and wellbeing. CommonBond has additional structures in place that afford it the opportunity to learn about and track resident needs over time, including biannual resident surveys, new resident orientations, program outcomes and participation data, and the “Live Well at Home” assessment, which assesses older adults’ needs for supports that would allow them to thrive in their homes.

Key Opportunities: Utilizing resident data and clearly describing their needs will allow CommonBond to better present itself to health care entities as a valuable partner. The Center recommends CommonBond:

  • Increase data collection and its understanding of resident needs, including enhancing its Resident Survey and New Family Certification/Orientation Process to gather data on a broader set of measures, such as resident hospitalization rates, readmission rates, ambulance transfers and the use of behavioral health services.
  • Strengthen its value proposition by becoming more expert in a set of health care programs for low-income Minnesotans, such as the Integrated Health Partnerships (IHP) program, which aims to deliver higher quality and lower cost health care to Minnesota’s Medicaid beneficiaries using innovative approaches to care and payment.
  • Establish itself as the go-to partner by engaging in local hospitals’ Community Health Needs Assessments (CHNAs) and participating in initiatives like the East Metro Mental Health Roundtable (a collaboration of law enforcement, social service agencies, health systems, hospitals, etc. that addresses mental health care in the Twin Cities) as well as two counties’ Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) processes, which convene public and private stakeholders to identify and tackle local priority health areas.

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