A New Community Joins Our Ranks.
On October 1, 2016, North Hartford, CT officially started on its Way to Wellville, becoming the fifth Wellville community. In some important respects North Hartford is different from our other communities; because of that, we think what we learn here will benefit all of Wellville.
The most obvious difference is that North Hartford is an urban community. Comprising three neighborhoods with 24,000 people, it is part of Hartford, the capital of Connecticut, with a total population of 125,000 people.
Also, differently from the other Wellville communities, the work in North Hartford is being led by an outside entity – the New York-based non-profit Community Solutions, which in 2010 launched a partnership and opened a local office to “help a once thriving community stage a healthy comeback.” Currently half of North Hartford’s residents live in poverty, life expectancy of those calling North Hartford home is 11 years less than in surrounding communities, and unemployment is 27%.
Community Solutions is known around the world as an innovator in reducing homelessness, but has less experience in population health. Joining Wellville’s health, finance and business expertise with Community Solutions’ social-welfare expertise will yield sustainable impact for North Hartford and invaluable learning for all of Wellville. Wellville CEO Rick Brush will assume a dual role in North Hartford: Wellville navigator (similar to the role Wellville plays in our other communities) and leader for the Community Solutions team already working on a number of projects in North Hartford.
Community Solutions takes a collective impact approach to problem solving very similar to Wellville’s. It looks at problems systemically; it’s data driven; it’s entrepreneurial and learns through action; and it works in poverty-stricken areas. Their work in North Hartford, already well underway, involves an active partnership among organizations including:
- The City of Hartford
- State of Connecticut Department of Human Services and Medicaid
- The health systems Saint Francis/Trinity, Hartford Hospital and University of Connecticut
- Hartford Food System
- Local businesses and the reSET accelerator
Additionally, Community Solutions is the driving force behind the rehab of the 65,000 square foot Swift Factory building, located in the community. Donated by the Swift family, the building is being developed as a mixed-use community hub, with plans for a federally qualified health center (FQHC), library branch, food prep and distribution center, and retail space.
In working with Community Solutions, Wellville will be supporting the goals set by Community Solutions – its Neighborhood Triple Aim:
- Improved population health
- Improved experience of wellbeing
- Reduced (and ultimately reinvested) health care costs
Among the initial tasks for Rick and the North Hartford team will be to quantify goals, align a growing network of stakeholders on shared priorities, and redesign a community health worker program to achieve greater scale and sustainability.
There’s much more to the story, and we’ll continue to tell it in future updates. Stay tuned.