Nonprofit Spotlight: Community foundation’s commitment to Health and Housing |

Nonprofit Spotlight: Community foundation’s commitment to Health and Housing

The Community Foundation of Western Nevada sponsors this content

Chris Askin
Courtesy photo

There is a strong connection between poor housing conditions and poor health conditions. The National Institutes of Health have found that certain specific health conditions, including respiratory infections, asthma, lead poisoning, injuries, and mental health, have a direct association with poor housing conditions.

And in our community, as in other cities across the country, we are in a housing crisis due to rising costs and lack of inventory.

Much of our affordable housing was created years ago through the private sector utilizing Low-Income Housing Tax Credits and other such incentives. These low-income apartments “time out” and are reset to market rate. Our region has been losing more low-income housing than we have been creating, exacerbating an already growing shortfall from an increased population.

Thoughtful advancement in the development of housing is critical. The Pew Trusts conducted a health impact assessment connected with housing and found it is essential to make good decisions about projects, policies, and programs so that housing is created the right way.

Local leadership by Truckee Meadows Healthy Communities in coordination with the Enterprise Group Initiative on Health and Housing cites housing quality, affordability, stability, and location, as all being important factors for successful outcomes by residents. A roof over our heads is critical, but living in a place we like, that is well cared for with access to transportation, which is affordable on 30% of our income, with access to program support if needed, is life-changing in a positive way.

Peas and carrots – health and housing. They go together. It seems so obvious, but I do not see a simple solution. It is clear to me that we cannot build our way out of the housing shortfall.

Phillip Rojc’s article, “Big Problem, Limited Funds: Can Philanthropy Make Headway on Housing” published by Inside Philanthropy argues that housing is not a problem that lends itself to philanthropic solutions. He correctly states that “Grantmakers do not possess the resources to tackle the housing crisis singlehandedly.”

For years some big foundations have been pouring money into housing development, but they are now shifting to advocacy and movement building. Their work is focused on changing the narrative, encouraging activism, and providing an evidence base for policy reform. Earlier this year, nine foundations granted $10 million, not for housing, but for affordable housing campaigns, hoping to leverage hundreds of millions, or perhaps billions, of dollars of support through public and private sources.

They are trying to change the system to address housing for people of all income levels in the future. As with many economically related resources, housing costs are affected by a complex interplay of broad economic trends, regional financial and real estate markets, and government policies and policies at the federal, state, and local levels.

David Wertheimer of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation cites many recommended and implemented strategies but says the key is to offer what you can. So, if we can’t build our way out of the housing crisis what can philanthropy do? We can address specific shortages such as transitional and bridge housing.

We support the efforts of local leadership, such as that provided by Truckee Meadows Healthy Communities, the Reno Area Alliance for the Homeless, and many others. The Community Foundation of Western Nevada is driven by donors whose gifts are leveraged by our leadership and collaboration with other groups, by our investment, and by our administrative expertise.

Dozens of companies in the region that understand how the need affects their employees, as well as the people living on the streets, have joined us to help.

At the Community Foundation, we are doing what we can, and we are just getting started. Donors support the Community Foundation’s housing effort. We offer you a conduit to make a significant impact.

Consider being part of the solution by making a gift of any size, time or treasure, of property, influence, or expertise. We are your community foundation, and together we can improve the housing, and health, for hundreds or perhaps even thousands of people here. You can help to bring them home.

For more information, please give us a call at 333-5499 or email me directly at

Chris Askin is president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Western Nevada, which sponsors this content.