INDIANAPOLIS—An Indiana University School of Medicine-led program is helping provide housing for pregnant women who are housing insecure or homeless. Housing insecurity, eviction and/or poor housing quality increase the risk of a poor birth outcome for the mother and baby. This program is a novel approach to improve birth outcomes in Indianapolis via the provision of housing, social support and advocacy.
The program includes two components—the first is called the Healthy Beginnings at Home (HBAH) Intervention, which provides housing navigation services, 24 months of rental assistance and case management services. The second is called the Health Justice Intervention, which aims to prevent evictions of low-income pregnant women by working with members of the judiciary.
“The housing crisis for low-income pregnant women is a major issue in Indiana.” said Jack Turman, PhD, professor of pediatrics at IU School of Medicine and principal investigator of the project. “If a woman doesn’t have housing, she’s likely experiencing toxic stress that is a risk factor for poor birth outcomes. By providing housing and social support we provide a foundation for well-being that can improve her health and the health of her baby.”
Participants in HBAH must be in their first or second trimester, over age 18, experiencing housing insecurity and CareSource Medicaid members. The women receive full rental assistance for 15 months, then tapered rental assistance for another 9 months. Six women are enrolled in the program so far, with a goal of 100 women being helped over five years. Housing navigation is provided by RDOOR Housing Corporation and the rental assistance portion of the program is currently being supported by the Indiana Department of Health, CareSource Foundation and Birge & Held Asset Management.
“Our partnerships with CareSource, RDOOR and Birge & Held Asset Management all contribute to helping a pregnant women identify housing options within the right price range, with them moving into their property between 2-5 weeks after enrollment.” Turman said. “We all love that each woman gets to be part of the process of identifying where she wants to live.”
The Healthy Beginnings at Home Intervention is complimented by a Health Justice Intervention coordinated by Adam Mueller, JD, the executive director of the Indiana Justice Project. Mueller’s team is engaging the community with Know Your Rights workshops and is providing strategic litigation and legal analysis to advocate for pregnant women experiencing housing insecurity.
“Our legal rights work has already expanded the knowledge of local judges and attorneys regarding the impact of evictions on birth outcomes, and some options they have other than evicting a pregnant woman,” Turman said. “Our work has included an Indiana State Bar Association publication examining eviction trauma in Indiana that went out to about 10,000 judges and attorneys and a housing justice conference to bring stakeholders together around this important issue.”
The program is funded by a five-year, $2.4 million grant called Housing Equity for Infant Health from the Health Resources and Services Administration. IU School of Medicine is collaborating with RDOOR, the Indiana Justice Project, Birge & Held Asset Management, Wheeler Mission, CareSource, Coalition for Homelessness Intervention and Prevention, Indiana Department of Health, Prosperity Indiana, and the City of Indianapolis Mayor’s Office.
For more information about the program, including how to qualify, visit the Housing Equity for Infant Health Initiative website or contact HealthyBeginningsatHomeIU@gmail.com.
About IU School of Medicine
IU School of Medicine is the largest medical school in the United States and is annually ranked among the top medical schools in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. The school offers high-quality medical education, access to leading medical research and rich campus life in nine Indiana cities, including rural and urban locations consistently recognized for livability.