Ounce Raises $5.2M and Partners with AmeriHealth Caritas D.C. and National Housing Trust to Bridge the Gap Between Housing and Health
Share This Article
• Housing + health innovator's strategic partnerships with largest D.C. Medicaid MCO and national affordable housing provider address health disparities faced by low-income residents through on-site care coordination
• With millions losing access to critical health benefits during Medicaid redeterminations, Ounce helps enroll eligible individuals and families in health insurance and vital government assistance programs
• Medicaid is suffering from a lack of innovation; investment in Ounce represents a significant step towards introducing transformative solutions that improve outcomes and achieve health equity
WASHINGTON, October 5, 2023-- Ounce, a company bridging the gap between health and housing, today announced it has raised $5.2 million in seed funding and partnered with AmeriHealth Caritas D.C. and National Housing Trust to bring care coordination and wraparound services to over 2,000 residents of affordable housing across 9 properties in D.C. The funding round was co-led by Meridian Street Capital and Flare Capital, with participation from: Chelsea Clinton's Metrodora Ventures, Wilshire Lane Capital, Chris Nassetta (Hilton CEO), Taylor Justice (Unite Us cofounder), and others.
Today, more than 300,000 D.C. residents are enrolled in Medicaid and approximately 27,000 low-income D.C. households face housing hardship. Making matters worse, as of June 21 this year, Medicaid redeterminations have resulted in 3,000 D.C. residents losing access to critical health coverage. Access to health insurance and a safe and affordable place to call home is fundamental to many areas of life, including school performance, job retention, physical and mental health, and economic security. Medicaid managed care organizations (MCOs) are committed to improving health outcomes for this population, but struggle to engage them due to factors such as invalid or frequently changing contact information, lack of trust in the healthcare system, limited access to transportation, low health literacy, and inadequate childcare support.
To address these issues, Ounce embeds its team of trained Community Health Workers (CHWs) within affordable housing properties where they directly connect and regularly engage with residents, building trusted relationships over time. The CHW model is widely recognized as playing a crucial role for Medicaid beneficiaries by providing personalized support, education, and guidance that empowers individuals to navigate complex healthcare systems, adhere to treatment plans, and address social drivers of health, ultimately leading to improved health outcomes.
Ounce CHWs evaluate residents for gaps in care, host onsite health clinics and screenings, enroll residents in public benefits like Medicaid, SNAP and disability, and connect residents to healthcare and social services, including scheduling primary care and pediatric appointments or helping residents apply for rental assistance. This approach benefits not only residents and Medicaid MCOs, but also property owners, who choose to work with Ounce because it's a scalable solution that can help them demonstrate positive health and social impact from their property services.
"There is an enormous gap between health plans and where their members spend over 70 percent of their time – their homes. Our highly trained team leverages technology to conveniently engage people where they are, deliver impactful services, and lower healthcare costs for residents and insurers," said Rachel Munsie, co-founder and CEO, Ounce. "Our success is largely due to the trusted relationships we're uniquely able to build with residents and the convenience of our services, all delivered within the existing community infrastructure. Our integration with the properties and our proximity to residents gives us the opportunity to quickly intervene with support when we see red flags like eviction notices or other indicators for housing instability, which has clear links to healthcare outcomes."
Ounce chose to launch its services in Southeast D.C. before expanding to the rest of the city. Southeast D.C., which is predominantly Black, has higher rates of poverty and gun violence due to chronic underinvestment and has been identified as both a food and healthcare desert. Despite these challenges, Ounce was able to engage and enroll over 30 percent of residents into its program just months after launching, immediately expanding access to care and critical benefits where it's needed most. Ounce has since maintained engagement rates that are significantly higher than the single-digit rates typical of traditional care models. As a result of this high level of direct engagement, residents who get support from Ounce receive, on average, multiple services at a time. High engagement rates can also be attributed to Ounce's practice of recruiting CHWs who are from or deeply familiar with the communities they serve.
"We are proud about our partnership with Ounce to better engage and serve our enrollees right where they live," said Karen Dale, Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer and President & CEO, AmeriHealth Caritas D.C. "Through their community-based presence, Ounce is significantly extending our reach, closing gaps in care, and driving improvements in health equity. We are also appreciative of the work Ounce is doing to educate residents about Medicaid redeterminations and support them in navigating the process."
In addition to its close partnership with AmeriHealth Caritas D.C., Ounce has partnered with the National Housing Trust, a nonprofit organization that focuses on preserving and improving affordable homes for low-income families. "By combining our expertise in affordable housing preservation with Ounce's innovative approach to resident services, we are creating a transformative impact on the well-being of our communities, ensuring that quality housing and comprehensive health support go hand-in-hand," said Priya Jayachandran, CEO of the National Housing Trust.
Ounce also works closely with D.C.-based providers such as C3Cares and Urgent Wellness, along with several local community organizations including: Bread for the City, Capital Area Food Bank, Giant Healthy Living, Latin American Youth Center, Martha's Table, So Others Might Eat, UPO Workforce Institute, and many more.
"Safe, stable housing should mean more than just a roof over your head. It should also mean a healthy and health-promoting environment. Ounce, through their vision of affordable housing with wraparound services, directly addresses and strengthens the link between housing and residents' health and well-being. We couldn't be prouder to support Ounce as they play a real role in the work to move us closer to a more equitable, healthy and just society."
- Chelsea Clinton, Co-founder, Metrodora Ventures
"Ounce represents a paradigm shift in how we address the interconnected challenges of health and housing. Recognizing the profound impact of social drivers of health on individual well-being, Ounce's model brilliantly converges healthcare and housing solutions. We believe that by investing in Ounce, we're backing a pioneering approach that can redefine health for underserved communities like those living in affordable housing. Their innovative vision aligns with our commitment to transformative solutions that have both social and economic impact."
- Scott Law, General Partner, Meridian Street Capital
"While healthcare advancements continue at a rapid pace, addressing foundational needs like housing has often been overlooked. With Ounce, we see a groundbreaking synergy between housing and health, ensuring residents not only have a place to call home but also access to comprehensive health resources. At Flare Capital Partners, we're always in search of disruptive solutions that challenge the status quo. Ounce's approach does just that, filling a critical gap in the healthcare ecosystem, and we're excited to be part of this transformative journey."
- Vic Lanio, Partner, Flare Capital Partners
Ounce is on a mission to empower healthy and thriving communities by building bridges between housing and health. Ounce provides on-site care coordination and wraparound services to 2,000 residents of affordable housing across 9 properties in D.C. Learn more at: www.ounceofcare.com