Ounce, a startup that aims to “bridge the gap” between health and housing, announced Thursday that it has secured $5.2 million in seed funding. In addition, the company announced its first set of partners: AmeriHealth Caritas D.C. and National Housing Trust.
Washington, D.C.-based Ounce works with payers and affordable housing properties. It has a team of community health workers who work within affordable housing properties to support their residents. The workers evaluate residents for gaps in care and offer onsite health clinics and screenings. They also help residents enroll in public benefits like Medicaid or SNAP. In addition, the workers will direct them to healthcare and social services, including scheduling primary care appointments and helping them apply for rental support. The Amerihealth Caritas D.C. and National Housing Trust partnerships bring these services to more than 2,000 residents of affordable housing across 9 properties in D.C.
“The fundamental problem [is] access and engagement for low-income communities. … When I think about what drove me to build Ounce and address these problems, I have a life mission motto: to create new things that make society more fair,” said Rachel Munsie, co-founder and CEO of Ounce, in an interview. “I can’t really think of anything that’s less fair than having this broken service delivery system for 90-plus million people nationwide and 300,000 people who are on Medicaid in D.C.”
Ounce’s $5.2 million in seed funding was co-led by Meridian Street Capital and Flare Capital and included participation from Chelsea Clinton’s Metrodora Ventures, Wilshire Lane Capital, Hilton CEO Chris Nassetta and Unite Us Co-founder Taylor Justice.
Meridian Street Capital chose to invest in Ounce because of its dedication in addressing social determinants of health, said Scott Law, general partner of Meridian Street Capital.
“Ounce represents a paradigm shift in how we address the interconnected challenges of health and housing,” Law said in a statement. “Recognizing the profound impact of social drivers of health on individual well-being, Ounce’s model brilliantly converges healthcare and housing solutions. We believe that by investing in Ounce, we’re backing a pioneering approach that can redefine health for underserved communities like those living in affordable housing.”
With the financing, Ounce plans to expand its reach in Washington D.C. In the future, it also aims to work in other metropolitan areas, Munsie said.
“We’re thinking about and looking at cities that will make sense for future rollouts. … I think that large metropolitan areas — whether that’s Boston, Philadelphia, New York and even West Coast markets like California that are doing really innovative things from a Medicaid funding perspective and policy perspective — have been incredibly interesting to us,” she said.
The funding comes at a time when about 27,000 low-income households in D.C. are facing challenges with housing. The return to Medicaid redeterminations is only exacerbating the issue. Ounce ultimately aims to support this population and scale its business to reach more people, Munsie said.
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