“The nation needs Ounce, but for right now, I want to say thank you for having Ounce in our neighborhood,” says Lakeith, an Ounce D.C. resident who smiles at our team as she heads out of the property community room and back to her apartment.
As the event starts to wind down, kids are playing with an oversized Jenga block tower while adults mingle amongst themselves, still chatting over snacks and drinks. A resident discusses their upcoming health insurance enrollment deadline with an Ounce community health worker, while another resident sits at a table in a private corner for a health screening with one of Ounce’s nurse partners.
In an apartment complex off a busy main street, what was once an empty community room next to the leasing office, becomes a lively scene filled with residents attending one of our Ounce events.
In an industry where advancements in medicine and technology are constantly pushing the boundaries of what's possible, it's easy to forget the importance of reliable service, community, and simple human connection in healthcare. But it's precisely these values that drove us to build Ounce.
At Ounce, we embed our team within affordable housing properties where we provide care coordination, benefit enrollment, and wraparound services to residents, directly connecting and building trusted relationships over time.
In the months since we launched in our very first properties, Ounce has coordinated and provided hundreds of services for individuals and families. For one resident, we found a doctor who takes his insurance and coordinated transportation to the clinic, helping him to see a doctor for the first time in over four years. We navigated another resident through re-enrollment in Medicaid, so she narrowly avoided losing insurance for herself and her three boys. We encouraged residents to sign up for a neighborhood-wide walk challenge, and one of them won the grand prize for the most steps.
Dylan Owens, a founding team member at Ounce who served our very first residents, said it best as she reflected on this moment: “collectively, these resident stories are why our team does the work that we do each day. Each person on our team has unique personal missions, but the work we are doing together aligns with our shared values and the values at Ounce.”
Our commitment to preventative care and the integration of health and social services is at the heart of Ounce. Our name even comes from the saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”, which is a sentiment that can sometimes feel forgotten in our nation’s service delivery system. This saying and our mission to empower healthy and thriving communities by building bridges between health and housing are our organization’s north stars.
Today, Ounce serves more than 2,000 D.C. residents of affordable housing, and we announced seed funding and partnerships with both AmeriHealth Caritas D.C. and National Housing Trust.It’s hard to believe how far we’ve come in such a short time. We couldn’t have done it without our incredible team and the unwavering support of our community.
Our journey started with a simple yet powerful idea – that everyone, regardless of their circumstances or income, deserves access to quality care and the support they need to lead healthy lives. As we celebrate our progress, we are more committed than ever to expanding our reach and making a meaningful impact in the lives of those we serve. Our gratitude goes out to every person and organization that has believed in our mission, and we look forward to continuing this journey together towards a healthier, more equitable future for all.
By Rachel Munsie and Smitha Gopal, Co-founders of Ounce of Care