Blue Cross awards $740K to organizations addressing housing issues

PROVIDENCE – Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island has awarded $740,000 through its BlueAngel Community Health Grants to organizations addressing housing-related health inequities.

“We’re thrilled to be celebrating 20 years of BlueAngel Community Health Grants and over $6 million invested across our state,” said Martha L. Wofford, Blue Cross CEO and president. “Our community faces significant health-related needs and we’re proud to work with dedicated community partners who share our unwavering commitment to a healthier and more equitable Rhode Island.”

Blue Cross is awarding $335,000 to five organizations that improve access to safe, stable and affordable housing throughout Rhode Island and $405,000 for 2022 grantees to continue successful initiatives.

The BlueAngel initiative is a competitive grant program that has awarded more than $6 million to local organizations since its creation in 2002. In 2019, the program made housing the sole focus of the grants and since then it has invested $2.1 million in affordable housing.

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This focus on housing is guided by the annual RI Life Index survey, which shows that access to safe, stable and affordable housing is a top concern for Rhode Islanders in nearly every community.

“While the housing scores from the 2022 RI Life Index were discouraging, they highlight the urgency of supporting organizations that are working proactively and effectively to develop housing solutions for Rhode Islanders,” said Carolyn Belisle, Blue Cross managing director of corporate social responsibility. “This year’s grantees shine a light on the needs of children and families to access safe and affordable housing. For Rhode Islanders in every community and every ZIP code, lack of access to affordable housing continues to be one of the most significant barriers to health and well-being.”

The following organizations have been chosen for BlueAngel funding in 2023:

  • Adoption Rhode Island, in Providence. A youth development specialist from Adoption Rhode Island will be located at Copley Chambers, an affordable housing project for youths and young adults facing homelessness or housing insecurity, to support the residents.
  • South County Habitat for Humanity, in Charlestown. The grant will go toward materials for a project to build a neighborhood of seven single-family Habitat homes in Hopkinton.
  • Jonnycake Center for Hope, in South Kingstown. The center will renovate three of the 15 to 19 units of service-enriched housing it plans to offer to local, low-income families experiencing unstable and/or unaffordable housing.
  • West Elmwood Housing Development Corp., in Providence. Funding will allow the agency to increase its capacity to offer homebuyer education and foreclosure prevention services in Providence to monolingual Spanish-speaking first-time homebuyers and homeowners at risk of foreclosure.
  • Westbay Community Action Inc., in Warwick. The grant will allow Westbay to expand upon its Hoarding Intervention Response and Evaluation program, which provides services to Kent County residents who are at risk for engaging in hoarding behavior or who are already engaging in hoarding behavior.

Another $405,000 was awarded to 2022 grant recipients who applied for an additional year of funding, including DARE, or Direct Action for Rights and Equality; Housing Network of Rhode Island; NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley; ONE Neighborhood Builders; Pawtucket Central Falls Development; and Rhode Island Coalition to End Homelessness.

Claudia Chiappa is a PBN staff writer. You may contact her at Chiappa@PBN.com.

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