Our Approach: The Social Determinants of Health
Our quality of life depends on many things, including having a decent place to live, access to healthcare, adequate finances to pay for necessities, and loving family and friends. These things, often referred to as the social determinants of health, are the focus of St. Mary in each of our affordable apartment communities.
We execute our mission through real estate development and service coordination, building accessible, safe, and affordable apartment homes for older people, and giving them access to in-house experts who help them navigate complex networks of healthcare, social service, and government agencies to get the care and services they need.
SAFE, AFFORDABLE HOUSING
We build better homes – and better lives.
People are living longer than ever before and most older adults will run out of money at some point in their lives. The majority of St. Mary residents rely on Social Security as their only source of income with an average annual income of $13,500 a year, making them vulnerable to living in unsafe housing and neighborhoods. In fact, fifteen percent of our residents were previously homeless.
We start with affordable housing because we know a safe home is the foundation for a high-quality life. Our apartments are designed with older people in mind, and include features like zero-step entries, roll-in showers, and community spaces. They’re more accessible than 99% of housing in the country and allow our residents to age in their homes and avoid Medicaid nursing homes.
We help older people achieve financial security.
Without access to affordable housing, older people with low incomes are faced with difficult decisions. After paying rent, they may have to choose between healthcare or food, a bus pass or the electric bill, refilling a prescription or keeping the heat on.
Our apartment rents are typically 20% to 40% lower than market-rate rents, and our units feature energy efficient appliances, meaning our residents also benefit from lower utility bills. Our Service Coordinators connect residents to free or reduced-cost transportation, healthcare, and other community services. Having access to these services dramatically improves our residents’ quality of life.
TECHNOLOGY AND EDUCATION
We equip older people with tech and resources.
Things that may seem simple to us often prevent older people from getting the care they need. Lack of knowledge about technology and the cost of internet access can stand in the way of a doctor’s appointment or connecting with a loved one.
Our Service Coordinators introduce training opportunities on the latest technologies to improve residents’ lives: iPad classes from the local library, an app that reads news stories aloud, or a voice-activated device to remind a resident to take her medications. We also offer educational programs on topics like personal finance, physical health, and emotional wellbeing.
PHYSICAL AND MENTAL HEALTH
We connect residents to health services.
The healthcare system is challenging enough for an average person to navigate. Our low-income residents often struggle to access government and nonprofit programs created to serve them.
Transportation is the greatest barrier for our residents as many have stopped driving or cannot afford to own or maintain a vehicle. Service Coordinators work to ensure residents are not denied access to quality healthcare by seeking transportation solutions to get to healthcare appointments, and bring healthcare partners into our buildings. We also help residents take advantage of free community health programs and schedule home health services that allow them to stay happy, healthy, and independent.
SOCIAL SUPPORT AND COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT
We create social systems of care for our residents.
Older people need meaningful social relationships just like everyone else. But without a place to call home or the resources to connect with loved ones, they’re often left feeling isolated and hopeless.
Our apartment communities are built to encourage socialization. Community gardens, fitness rooms, media rooms, and meeting areas offer many opportunities for individuals to build new and lasting friendships through game nights, Bible studies, and card clubs, among other events.