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Kaiser Permanente’s Bechara Choucair believes that proper housing is essential to good health

For making affordable housing a priority at healthcare giant Kaiser Permanente, Bechara Choucair is one of Fast Company’s Most Creative People of 2020.

Kaiser Permanente’s Bechara Choucair believes that proper housing is essential to good health
[Illustration: André Gottschalk]
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Housing hasn’t traditionally been a component of healthcare. But physician and SVP Bechara Choucair knew it should be. He prompted healthcare giant Kaiser Permanente to create a new, $200-million, impact-investing fund in 2018 to address housing stability and homelessness. “It’s nearly impossible for a person to achieve or maintain good health if they don’t have a stable roof over their head,” Choucair says. In 2019, Kaiser designated $50 million of that fund to Bay Area projects and made another $50 million available as loan capital to develop more affordable housing across all Kaiser Permanente markets in the country. A separate fund was also established to move more than 500 older homeless people in the company’s hometown of Oakland, California, into stable housing. The state of California recently copied the idea with a similar flexible fund on the state level. Meanwhile, Choucair is also working with executives at 47 other health systems to drive a nationwide housing and health agenda. “We’re building this in a way that’s replicable. We want other health systems and, honestly, nonhealth systems, to step up and do that type of work,” he says. Over the past year, the company has partnered with more than a dozen financial and tech companies, including Facebook, to increase affordable housing in the Bay Area.

About the author

Adele Peters is a staff writer at Fast Company who focuses on solutions to some of the world's largest problems, from climate change to homelessness. Previously, she worked with GOOD, BioLite, and the Sustainable Products and Solutions program at UC Berkeley, and contributed to the second edition of the bestselling book "Worldchanging: A User's Guide for the 21st Century."

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