You may be asking, Why is a nonprofit health clinic building housing? The answer has to do with the direct correlation between poverty and illness.

Social Determinants of Health are the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age – circumstances are shaped by the distribution of money, power and resources at global, national and local levels. In simple terms, poverty makes people sick. There is a direct correlation between health and wealth, poverty and illness, and access to healthcare, education, clean water, food and open space — essential things that contribute to physical and mental health.

Until Target opened in March 2017, Marin City had several fast food outlets but the closest grocery stores were costly Mollie Stone Market in Sausalito or Good Earth in Mill Valley.

The bottom line: In the U.S. we spend $0.80 of every $1.00 for medical care on procedures, but over 80% of our health and well-being depends on these factors:

  • Social: barriers to employment, education; discrimination; exposure to violence and crime; residential segregation
  • Physical: access to outdoor space and recreation, safe environments, lack of pollution, access to clean water and healthy food
  • Economic: access to employment and stable housing, financial literacy
  • Individual behaviors: diet, physical activity, low alcohol or cigarette use, good health hygiene
  • Biology and genetics: inherited disease.
  • Access to care: nearness of affordable, high quality healthcare that serves all, including Medi-Cal, undocumented, and uninsured.

Robert Woods Johnson Foundation has several recent articles on the unique and powerful role of Medicaid (Medi-Cal to us) in improving whole person health and the connection between residential segregation and health (Marin was recently ranked as the most racially segregated county in California.) And this article by Urban Institute’s How Housing Matters links housing with cardiovascular health, depression, sleep disorders, asthma, and obesity.

So the answer is: Why wouldn’t a health clinic provide housing as part of wellness?