Health & Wellness

If you are homeless and have diabetes, how are you supposed to refrigerate your insulin?

If you have an unexpected, expensive medical bill, but only make $7.25 an hour, how are you supposed to pay your rent?

If you don’t have a car, work two jobs, and can’t afford a place near public transportation, how are you supposed to get your children to their wellness visits when the doctor’s office is open?

The above questions are just a few examples of how health and housing influence each other. Problems in housing can lead to problems in health, and vice versa. In order to break the cycle of poverty, people need a home and the tools to manage their health.

To help Mercy Housing residents live healthier lives, we offer a range of health and wellness services. Fitness classes and physical activity programs that  invigorate the body and mind. Cooking classes teach how to shop on a budget  and prepare healthy meals. Free health screenings help residents manage their health. And at many of our properties, Mercy Housing staff help residents sign up for health insurance and navigate the complex health care system. These and other services are all offered onsite.


At our communities with Resident Services, among those who responded to our survey:

  • 90% of senior residents and 75% of all residents reported having a primary care provider.
  • 97% of residents reported having health insurance.
  • 94% of senior residents reported having had a checkup in the previous year.

Residents reported that they exercised an average of 4 days a week.

Pursuing health with others

For Carla, a resident at the Miriam Apartments in Chicago, exercise and healthy eating aren’t short-term objectives; they’re a way of life. She is a stroke, heart attack, and two-time cancer survivor who understands how exercise and healthy eating can improve a person’s quality of life.

“I know the right kinds of food and the wrong kinds of food. I know what makes me feel good and what makes me feel bad. I want to feel good,” she said.

Carla participated in a “Feel Better Challenge,” an annual eight-week fitness and healthy lifestyle program held in our Chicago region. She didn’t limit herself to the special Feel Better programs and activities available at her community; she also took advantage of programs being offered at Mercy Housing properties around the city, like group exercise classes, therapeutic arts and crafts sessions, meditation, and yoga.

She was also a source of inspiration and motivation to other women in the building. “I used to go knocking on doors to get people walking. Now the ladies come to find me,” said Carla.

What’s more, Carla was one of two residents recently accepted into a leadership program for GirlTrek, a national nonprofit that mobilizes African-American women to live their healthiest, most fulfilled lives through daily walking.

Addressing health disparities

As part of Mercy Housing Northwest’s Bringing Health Home program, Mercy Housing’s Community Health Promoters (CHPs) work to address the many barriers and health disparities facing low-income residents of King County (Seattle, WA), especially recent immigrants and communities of color. The CHPs, collectively proficient in Amharic, Somali, Russian, Spanish, Vietnamese, and English, help residents manage their health by providing classes and information about physical exercise, smoking cessation, healthy eating, and other factors that contribute to chronic disease. The CHPs have also partnered with more than a dozen other organizations to provide residents with health screenings, flu shot clinics, pre-natal and child birth education, diabetes prevention and education, and much more! Since its launch, the CHP program has provided more enrolled 102 people in Medicaid, and offered 105 classes and reached XX people.[LA2] 

Helping seniors stay healthy

In Phoenix, AZ,  our senior residents are taking charge of their health by enrolling in Mercy Housing’s Chronic Disease Self-Management (CDSM) and Matter of Balance (MOB) programs! The CDSM program helps improve residents’ health literacy by covering several health-related topics, including how to deal with difficult emotions, manage the symptoms of their conditions, set goals, solve problems, understand medication labels, make informed medical decisions, and more!

The MOB program helps seniors overcome their fear of falling and increase their physical activity by teaching participants to view falls as preventable, set goals, make changes to reduce fall risk at home, and exercise to increase strength and balance!

Challenges Facing Residents:

  • Limited access to healthy food
  • Difficulty accessing and  navigating healthcare system
  • Difficulty obtaining high-quality health care
  • Limited access to preventive care
  • Limited access to resources related to staying healthy
  • Few opportunities/places to exercise

Opportunities offered at Mercy Housing communities:

  • Food banks and pantries with healthy food options.
  • Help  navigating healthcare system
  • Help obtaining health insurance Preventive services and screenings
  • Wellness workshops on how to manage chronic diseases and improve health