The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), through its Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes (OLHCHH), and in partnership with the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA), recognizes excellence in making indoor environments healthier through healthy homes research, education, and through program delivery, especially in diverse, low to moderate income communities.
Seattle Housing Authority (Seattle, WA)
The Seattle Housing Authority (SHA), a federally funded housing authority with over 7,000 units of public housing, has partnered with multiple sectors to create the Breathe Easy Program and redevelop Yesler Terrace, a 75-year-old former public housing development, into a healthy community. The Breathe Easy Program stems from interventions implemented, studied, and proven to be effective over the last decade in Seattle Housing Authority’s redevelopment of the High Point neighborhood. Using those evidence-based practices, the Breathe Easy Program intends to make real gains in improving the health of low-income individuals and families, particularly those suffering from asthma or other respiratory illnesses. SHA considers the Breath Easy Program to be one component of an overall comprehensive approach to build a healthy vibrant community.
SHA launched the Yesler Breathe Easy Program in 2015, which provides healthy homes for low-income families and offers one-on-one visits from a trained community health worker. Under the Breathe Easy Program, SHA employs a wide range of measures to improve health, from making significant changes in housing construction and using selective building materials to integrating innovative programming and support systems. Two brand new affordable multifamily residential buildings in the Yesler Terrace neighborhood showcase SHA’s dedication to healthy homes. The Raven Terrace and Kebero Court apartment buildings incorporate design features that protect families from dust, toxins, and other pollutants that can result in increased hospital visits and missed school and work days.
California Healthy Homes Coalition/Regional Asthma Management Program (Oakland, CA)
The California Healthy Housing Coalition (CHHC)/Regional Asthma Management and Prevention (RAMP) is a coalition of California organizations concerned with respiratory health. The formation of CHHC created a voice for healthy housing in state policy and established a new front for efforts to improve housing conditions. RAMP serves as the co-chair of CHHC’s Steering Committee and has led its state policy efforts. This new statewide voice for healthy housing has been effective in its innovative, strategic approach to using state policy advocacy to improve housing conditions and health.
First, CHHC developed and passed a series of legislation over three years to transform the approach code enforcement officers and landlords take to address pest infestations. Second, CHHC found a solution to what may have been the most challenging healthy housing issue in the state, mold, and helped California to become the first state in the county to explicitly make mold an enforceable substandard housing condition. RAMP’s and CHHC’s success is based on the strong partnerships created and effective collaboration among a wide range of healthy housing stakeholders in California.
Boston Housing Authority (Boston, MA)
The Boston Housing Authority (BHA), a federally funded housing authority with over 11,000 units of public housing and additional affordable housing units funded by the state, has been a long-time leader in researching and adopting healthy homes practices in its public housing developments. BHA has a longstanding commitment to healthy housing, which has been institutionalized over the past 15 years through a number of policy and program initiatives, including the adoption of an Integrated Pest Management initiative in 2008, a Smoke Free policy in 2012, and the BHA Strategic Sustainability Plan in 2014.
Through all of these efforts, BHA has institutionalized healthy housing principles into its housing and business policies and practices to foster health and wellness among its residents and employees. Recently, BHA implemented a Boston Residential Investigations on Green and Healthy Transitions (BRIGHT) study to quantify the changes that redevelopment has produced in occupant health and wellbeing across a variety of metrics. The metrics used in the BRIGHT study include ambient air quality, incidence and prevalence of asthma and other respiratory ailments, occupant comfort and satisfaction, energy/water consumption, and operations and maintenance work order requests.