Societal Determinants of Health: New Models of Partnerships in Housing

Across the healthcare continuum, there is growing awareness that education, safety, environment, employment, and other societal circumstances significantly impact a person’s health status. This panel focused on one such determinant – housing – and described the intersection with population health and the impact of innovative programs to address housing and homelessness. 



Rosamaria Martinez
Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers, Vice President of Community Health Initiatives


Marah Curtis
UW-Madison School of Social Work, Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor

Nina Gregerson
Public Health Madison and Dane County, Health Education Coordinator

Christina Orr
Milwaukee VA Medical Center, Assistant Medical Center Director,

Ellen Sexton
UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Wisconsin, CEO

Top Takeaways from Panelists:

  • Housing and other socio-economic factors are critical to health, and this needs to be reflected in the care delivery system. Achieving the best health outcomes for patients and communities depends on prioritizing these issues and on integrating discussions for addressing these issues within primary care clinical flows.
  • There are many strategies for addressing the housing crisis locally, including building new, affordable properties. However, communities can’t build their way out of this problem. To achieve housing stability for all, communities must look at how others are addressing housing in a collaborative and holistic way.
  • Housing is one part of the solution. Wrap-around services and partnerships between community agencies and services (along with time) are necessary for success.
  • Data sharing across agencies is an important aspect of partnerships. Having that information already available prevents someone from having to relive a painful conversation and helps the healthcare system better understand a person’s situation as a whole.
  • To implement quality policy, the issue of housing needs to be reimagined. Communities need to understand the market, understand the players on the ground, and understand what problems exist.