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New Web Site Advances Safe, Healthy Homes For Children

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DETROIT (WWJ) – A public website designed to highlight progress and share best practices of the Advancing Safe and Healthy Homes for Children and Families Initiative (ASHHI) has just been launched by the program’s national office and can be found at http://www.ashhi.org.

ASHHI promotes comprehensive, community-based assistance designed to mitigate home hazards that affect health and disproportionately impact disadvantaged families.

The website features information about the activities and progress of the six community organizations that receive ASHHI funding to work on solutions for home health hazard: Alameda County, California; Detroit; Greensboro, N.C.; Los Angeles; Newark, N.J.; and Omaha, Neb. The site also houses research findings, informative articles and links to technical assistance resources that are supporting the program.

“This new national site helps to connect the work being done in various parts of the country under one umbrella to help the sites and those working in the arena of healthy homes learn from each other,” said Pamela Shaheen, DrPH and director of ASHHI’s national program office. “We hope that by bringing together information and case studies about the work, we can help accelerate the knowledge base about practical ways to make homes healthier across our country.”

Funded by The Kresge Foundation, ASHHI actually grew out of earlier efforts by the foundation’s health initiative to reduce childhood lead poisoning. In 2012, it became a more comprehensive effort designed to address not only lead poisoning, but also home health hazards like asthma-triggering allergens, mold, fire hazards, substandard insulation and weatherization, repair problems like broken steps and railings, and neighborhood nuisances like abandoned buildings.

The initiative also aims to build the capacity of federal, state, and local government agencies to reduce the incidence of preventable illnesses, injuries, and hospitalizations caused by home environments; support the development of best practices; reduce health care costs; and advance philanthropic investment in the field of healthy homes.

Examples of work the six community organizations are undertaking with ASHHI funds follows.

Alameda County, California is using ASHHI funds to correct problems in 120 housing units – including 50 occupied by children with asthma and 45 where children are exposed to lead. The three-party alliance also plans to produce a model local ordinance and develop resources for healthy housing advocates.

CLEARCorps/Detroit is remediating hazards in 120 homes. It is also implementing activities to integrate healthy homes standards into community regulations and housing improvement efforts.

North Carolina’s Greensboro Housing Coalition, Inc. is bringing together code-enforcement inspectors, public health officials, landlords, city housing planners, public housing staff, builders, neighborhood leaders and legal-aid attorneys to address the need for decent and affordable housing for low- and moderate-income people and those with special needs.

Nebraska’s Omaha Healthy Kids Alliance (OHKA) is training a “one touch” coordinator to oversee all construction activities and to cross train project partners, staff, visiting nurses and community health workers. OHKA is also developing systematic protocols and instruments for intake and assessment to streamline existing processes.

Newark, New Jersey’s Department of Child and Family Well-Being, in coordination with the Living Cities Integration Initiative, is building upon an infrastructure established over the past 15 years for lead-based paint programs and remediation to further engage all sectors in new initiatives as it integrates existing projects in policy development, sustainability, advocacy and enforcement while expanding home remediation in target areas.

South Los Angeles, through a collaboration of three nonprofits, is training 25 new “community health promoters” over three years to collect data and promote home hazard remediation practices along with engaging more community clinics to conduct healthy homes work and support efforts.

More at http://www.ashhi.org.

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