MetroHealth unveils new affordable housing complex in Cleveland

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On Monday, MetroHealth held a grand opening for its new affordable housing complex on the West Side, which officials said is a way to address health disparities in Cleveland.

Housing and health are intertwined, and unsafe or unsuitable housing conditions can lead to health inequities, said Alan Nevel, MetroHealth's chief diversity officer.

“If you don’t have a safe place to live, if you don’t have gainful employment, if you live in a food desert, all of those things compound themselves to the fact that it’s very difficult to stay healthy," he said.

The residence is called Vía Sana, which means "healthy way" in Spanish. It's located in the Clark-Fulton neighborhood, where more than half of the residents are Hispanic or Latino and more than a third live in poverty, according to figures from the Center for Community Solutions.

Research has shown that access to safe and stable housing contributes to good health outcomes. Unsafe housing situations can lead to issues like elevated blood lead levels, stress and other health hazards.

“Your health outcomes are predicated, really 80% of them, are predicated on things that have nothing to do with your anatomy or biology or chemistry," said Nevel.

Rent at the 72-unit complex, located at the corner of West 25th Street and MetroHealth Drive, will vary depending on a person’s income. For example, if a person makes less than $17,000 per year, a one bedroom unit would be about $350 per month, according to community manager Erica Haize.

“So that’s very affordable," she said. "For a two bedroom, [it] will be like $575.”

The rent goes up if residents earn more money, but officials say it will still be based on their income.

Haize said her ability to speak Spanish will allow her to reach a community that has a large Hispanic population.

The complex is now accepting applications. The first residents will move in later this month, officials said.

MetroHealth’s nonprofit affiliate CCH Development is partnering with developer The NRP Group on the project. Vía Sana is the first of many affordable housing complexes the hospital is planning.

The building will also address other social determinants of health, through its Economic Opportunity Center, which will be operated in partnership with Cuyahoga Community College to provide job training, financial and digital literacy training and access to Tri-C classes.

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