Current Leader

Katie Brennan

Katie Brennan
Location: Jersey City, New Jersey Cohort Start Year: 2020 Project Topics: Built Environment/Housing/Planning, Community/Civic Engagement, Public Policy, Social Sector/Non-Profit Populations Served: Adults (21-64 years), African-American/Black, At-Risk/Vulnerable Populations, Children and Families, Foster Youth and Families, Hispanic/Latino/Latinx, Homeless Populations, Incarcerated or Formerly Incarcerated Populations, LGBTQ+ Communities, Low-Income Communities, Military/Veterans, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders (NHPI), Native/Tribal/Indigenous People, Older Adults (65+), People Living with HIV/AIDS, People with Addictions, People with Disabilities, Southwest Asian and/or North African (SWANA), Urban Communities
Executive Director
New York State Office of Resilient Homes and Communities

Katie’s vision for a Culture of Health is a world of silo-breaking, efficient, effective government. It is a world of common sense solutions. Today, doctors cannot write a prescription for affordable housing. But they could. With a prescription for affordable housing- a safe, decent, stable place to live- people avoid the cycle of homeless shelters, emergency rooms, and jail. Providing housing is cheaper than the emergency room, shelter, or jail, let alone all three combined. With stable housing, a person’s reliance on other systems disappears and health outcomes skyrocket. This is a world where our public policy fosters wellbeing.

A passionate public servant with a national track record in changemaking, Katie champions governance grounded in equity, efficiency, and efficacy. Today, our systems are not set up to work for people. Our systems are set up to address symptoms and not root causes, leaving the problem unsolved. Further, we have created a culture of distrust in the government, where government is believed to be ineffective, perpetuating the decline. She believes in the need for big radical change at scale only a government can create. By redeploying our government systems and existing resources to adddress root causes Katie will build a government built for the people.

As a Culture of Health Leader, she hones change management skills, collaborating and building alliances across sectors, and plans for a better, more effective government. She’s grown her communication skills to better advocate for change and to transform policy, systems, and institutions. Through this holistic approach Katie plans for equitable health and housing solutions in New Jersey and beyond.

I dream of a world where doctors can prescribe a home and where Medicaid can pay rent. Housing provides shelter from toxins and pandemics; it is safety and access to food, care, and jobs. I will create a world where healthcare systems recognize that housing is healthcare. A disproportionate number of ER-frequent utilizers are housing-insecure. Supportive housing improves outcomes and reduces healthcare costs when targeted at high-cost utilizers. When people with housing insecurity exit the ER, they return to environments where it is hard to heal, regularly take medication, or maintain follow-up visits. Increasingly, ERs recognize this issue, but affordable housing is scarce. What is available is often substandard, presenting additional hazards. Policy reform will create a pathway for existing healthcare funding sources to address housing needs as they do other health triggers. Kombo will continue my work with health systems to create affordable housing for frequent utilizers of ERs. Kombo will also support systems addressing social determinants of health specifically related to housing – lead, mold, homelessness, and toxins, which are high utilizers of the ER, jail, and climate refugee risk. Ultimately, Kombo will grow to enact policy and legislative reform at a state and federal level.

A passionate public servant with a national track record in change-making, Katie champions governance grounded in equity, efficiency, and efficacy. With expertise in affordable housing, environmental justice, and sexual assault survivor protections, Katie is equipped with the technical knowledge, policy-crafting experience, and coalition-building skills to pass laws that meaningfully improve communities.
Committed to delivering results, Katie counts the launch of the nation’s first statewide hospital and housing agency partnership on her resume—a program which spawned the development of six New Jersey affordable housing projects with residences allocated for top emergency services users. This initiative set the precedent for similar endeavors nationally and internationally. Katie thrives in making large bureaucratic systems work effectively and pushing innovation to scale.

Click here to watch Katie’s Legacy Project video.