DALLAS, April 27, 2022 – Skyrocketing homeless rates and a lack of affordable housing and nutritious food in the Seattle-Puget Sound area are a growing crisis that also impact health. To sustainably address food and housing insecurity as social and economic impediments to health equity, the American Heart Association, the world’s leading nonprofit organization focused on heart and brain health for all, today announced three Puget Sound-based organizations and social enterprises will receive $470,000 in grant funding from the Association’s Bernard J. Tyson Impact Fund

Why? Many people are surprised to learn that about 80% of a person’s health is determined by factors other than access and quality of clinical care. These factors include race, social-economic status and geographical location.

According to a recent census survey, 49% of renters and 26% of homeowners are cost-burdened and spend over 30% of their income on housing. The increasing costs of living have led to nearly 12,000 individuals in the county becoming homeless since 2020 making Seattle/King County the third-largest homeless population in the country. Prior to the pandemic, more than 350,000 people in the Puget Sound area were food insecure according to Feeding America. The COVID-19 pandemic and mounting economic crisis have more than doubled the rate of food insecurity in the region.

Through its Bernard J. Tyson Social Impact Fund, the Association invests in local entrepreneurs, small businesses and organizations that are breaking down the social and economic barriers to healthy lives. Contributions from a variety of funders, including entrepreneur Jeff Bezos, helped to fund this opportunity for community impact organizations in the Puget Sound area.

“Investing in community-led solutions to help overcome health disparities, mental health challenges and other social influencers of health means all people have a better opportunity to live long, healthy lives,” said Nancy Brown, chief executive officer of the American Heart Association. “Because of the generous support of committed donors like Jeff Bezos, the American Heart Association is investing in organizations and social entrepreneurs working to create healthy lives and dismantle inequities in communities of color and other historically excluded populations.”

The Puget Sound area grantees are social entrepreneurs and nonprofit organizations that serve under-invested neighborhoods: 

Housing Connector is a nonprofit business-to-business organization that partners with property owners/managers and service providers to remove barriers that prevent families from home access, ending the cycle of homelessness.

Puget Sound Food Hub Cooperative is a farmer-owned cooperative that markets, aggregates and distributes locally produced food from farms to regional institutions that are increasing access to healthy food.

Weld Seattle is a nonprofit organization that breaks down the barriers to housing and employment within the Seattle region by providing transitional housing to people reentering society from incarceration, overcoming homelessness and/or active substance addiction.

Since its launch in June 2020, the Bernard J. Tyson Impact Fund has supported 50 social entrepreneurs and nonprofits in New York, Detroit, San Francisco, Chicago, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Seattle, the greater Washington D.C. region and Oakland, California. The fund honors the late Bernard J. Tyson, long-time AHA volunteer and former Kaiser Permanente Chairman and CEO. Tyson worked tirelessly to overcome structural and systemic barriers to support social justice and equitable health for all.

To learn more about the Bernard J. Tyson Impact Fund and future funding opportunities, visit heart.org/ bernard-j-tyson-fund.

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About the American Heart Association

The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations, and powered by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for the public’s health and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for nearly a century. Connect with us on heart.orgFacebookTwitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.   

For Media Inquiries: 

Elizabeth Nickerson: 214-706-1173; Elizabeth.Nickerson@heart.org

For Public Inquiries: 1-800-AHA-USA1 (242-8721)

heart.org and stroke.org