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January 14, 2011
OSF commits $3.2 million to support national initiative’s green jobs training in distressed communities
The Open Society Foundations (OSF) have made a $3.2 million dollar grant to support the national work of the Green & Healthy Homes Initiative, a major public-private partnership that is creating greener, safer and healthier homes, and generating new green-sector jobs in low income communities.
GHHI uses an integrated, cost effective approach to address health, safety and energy issues in homes in low-income communities. This approach removes barriers between often-conflicting housing regulations and allows older homes to be rehabilitated to address all issues at the same time, instead of requiring multiple interventions. GHHI has shown that addressing these issues in a coordinated manner results in significant cost savings.
The Initiative, which is led by the National Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning, is working with 13 national partner cities and two Native American tribes, with the potential to double in size in the next year.
The OSF grant will provide support for GHHI to train and certify workers in green-building techniques, which will help develop a skilled workforce to meet the demand for green and healthy homes. The training will focus on residents of the target cities who have been chronically unemployed or underemployed, as well as those with criminal records. “During this economic recession, GHHI presents a compelling opportunity to directly impact the life prospects of low-income individuals,” said Mimi Corcoran, director of Open Society’s Special Fund for Poverty Alleviation. “GHHI’s innovative, strategically coordinated efforts will generate over a thousand green jobs across the country for residents from low-income communities who are chronically unemployed, and may have criminal records, while making homes green, healthy, and safe.”
The grant will lead to the creation of 1,400 green jobs for residents from low-income communities and help GHHI project sites to do rehabilitation work to create 3,500 homes that are free of lead and safety hazards, asthma triggers, and are weatherized to reduce energy costs for at risk families. The OSF grant will also support GHHI’s development of a training program that integrates energy-efficiency and health-based interventions.
“This investment from the Open Society Foundations provides us with critical support that will lead directly to residents of struggling communities being able to secure green jobs,” said Ruth Ann Norton, executive director of GHHI. “GHHI is forging a cost-effective approach to creating safer, greener and healthier homes in the communities of greatest need and providing new opportunities for residents of those communities to build the skills they need to be part of the green economy.”
$200,000 of the funding will be provided by the OSF’s Neighborhood Stabilization Initiative Fund to develop and advance innovative approaches to foreclosure prevention and neighborhood stabilization by utilizing the GHHI approach. Funds will be used to enhance GHHI practices and model programs and increase linkages of homeowners to local GHHI resources that can help prevent foreclosures through reductions in energy costs and medical costs as well as increased property values.
Through innovative and cost-effective intervention strategies, GHHI creates homes that promote better health, economic and social outcomes for low-income families, children and neighborhoods. GHHI has proven results in reducing energy costs and environmental health hazards as well as long-term maintenance costs in older homes.
Established in late 2008, GHHI involves major national foundations and local foundations, the federal government and nonprofits, all of which have coalesced around the drive to rehabilitate the nation’s older homes in a more efficient and cost-effective manner.
GHHI was prompted by the sobering fact that six million Americans are trapped in unhealthy or energy-inefficient housing that costs the nation billions of dollars in health-care costs, unnecessary energy usage and lost wages. Each year, unhealthy housing causes 250,000 new cases of childhood lead poisoning, 750,000 asthma-related emergency room visits, 10,000 carbon monoxide poisonings and 13 million preventable home-related injuries. In addition to the Open Society Foundations, GHHI has received $22 million in private sector and philanthropic funding, including national and local foundation support from The Annie E. Casey Foundation, Kresge Foundation, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and others.
GHHI has also worked closely with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to direct $500 million in federal home rehabilitation dollars to support this coordinated approach that addresses all of a home’s health, safety and energy problems.
About the Green & Healthy Homes Initiative™
The Green & Healthy Homes Initiative™ (GHHI) works in collaboration with local and federal agencies, and philanthropic partners to align, braid, and coordinate funding and programs to create green, healthy, and safe homes in low-income communities nationwide. Directed by the Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning (Coalition), with support from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Department of Energy and national and local foundations GHHI replaces stand-alone programs with a comprehensive strategy to improve health, economic and social outcomes through an integrated housing intervention framework.
About the Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning
Founded in 1986 as a response to the twin tragedies of unhealthy housing and unhealthy children, the Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning (Coalition) is a national 501(c)3 non-profit organization that creates, implements, and promotes programs and policies to eradicate childhood lead poisoning, reduce asthma episodes and further the creation of green, healthy and lead-safe homes. The Coalition manages local direct services programs that include green and healthy housing interventions, training programs, and relocation, legal, and education services. Nationally, the organization is a leading provider of public policy and technical assistance services to government agencies, non-profits, and philanthropy to support effective and efficient implementation of programs and policies that create energy efficient, healthy and safe homes.