BCBS History
Health Through Housing

Promoting Health through Housing

Posted by Madeleine Lovette

It’s not every day that a business conference agenda includes a morning spent washing windows, painting, and sprucing up tired landscaping. Unless, that is, the conference is the annual National Labor/Management Healthcare Strategies Meeting held last month in San Diego, California. 

Established by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association in 1965, the National Labor Office (NLO) is the liaison between organized labor and the 38 independent Blue® companies.

For the fourth consecutive year, the annual NLO conference sponsored a community service project.  More than two dozen volunteers from the Labor office and its affiliates spent a morning at a housing development for poor, elderly residents in Fontana, California. They painted residents’ rooms, washed windows, renovated the landscape outside of the development, and chatted with residents. 

“Like organized labor, the NLO strives to build strong and vibrant communities,” said Bonnie Summers, NLO Executive Director. “These service projects have not only allowed us to enrich communities across the country, but they have also helped to forge lasting relationships that enable the Blues to better serve their customers.”

This is the second year that the NLO chose the Elderly Housing Development and Operations Corporation (EHDOC) as a community service partner because of its commitment to keep low income seniors healthy by providing them with safe, secure, and affordable housing and supportive health services.

“The residents treated us like family,” said volunteer, Laury Keen, Director of Labor Accounts and the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida. “I’m so happy to have been able to make their home even more beautiful.”

According to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), one in every five Americans will be over age 65 by 2030, which could cause a shortage in affordable housing for many of America’s seniors.  Older adults without secure housing are less likely to seek ongoing healthcare and are more likely to develop preventable health conditions.  Only one percent of EHDOC residents require a transfer from their residence to a nursing home because of the services and benefits the community provides them.

“Like the 38 Blue Cross and Blue Shield Companies across the nation, EHDOC prioritizes prevention to ensure that seniors can stay healthy and active throughout their golden years,” said Summers.  “We will continue to support EHDOC’s efforts to bring stable housing and accessible healthcare services to those who need it the most.”

In addition to investing manual labor, the NLO also made a donation to EHDOC to facilitate the renovation of existing structures and to build new residences in Fontana.

A not-for-profit organization, EHDOC provides housing to seniors at or below the poverty line. EHDOC currently sponsors and manages 53 affordable senior housing communities in 15 states, Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico.

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