August 25, 2015

Federal, Nonprofit and Baltimore City Leaders Call for Making Homes Healthier to Help Children Thrive and Succeed in School

U.S. Housing Secretary Castro announces $4 million grant to Baltimore City to protect children from lead paint and other hazards in the home

At a back-to-school event hosted by the national Green & Healthy Homes Initiative (GHHI), U.S. Housing Secretary Julian Castro joined Baltimore City officials and major philanthropic and nonprofit leaders to call for more action to make homes healthier and safer, giving children better opportunities to stay healthy and succeed in school.

Secretary Castro announced the Department of Housing and Urban Development has awarded a grant of nearly $4 million to Baltimore City to protect children from lead-based paint and other safety hazards in 230 homes.

"Every family deserves to live in a safe and healthy home where they can see their children thrive and excel," said Castro. "Communities will use these grants to help eliminate home-related hazards in neighborhoods across the country. A healthy home is vital to the American Dream."

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, U.S. Reps. Elijah E. Cummings and John Sarbanes of Maryland, Johns Hopkins University President Ronald J. Daniels and Baltimore author and civic activist Wes Moore also discussed the critical importance of making homes healthier and safer. Several leaders from national and Baltimore foundations attended the event to stress the connection between healthy homes and student success.

The event, which took place at a school in East Baltimore, was hosted by the Baltimore-based GHHI, the nation's largest organization focused on healthier housing, which now is working in 25 cities, and the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. GHHI has worked for three decades to improve living conditions for children, families and seniors by making systemic home improvements that reduce the risks of lead-paint poisoning, asthma and other health hazards.

"What we are highlighting today is that investments in healthy housing work," said GHHI President and CEO Ruth Ann Norton. "By improving energy efficiency, addressing environmental health factors that exacerbate asthma and fixing hazards like lead paint, we improve grade-level reading scores, reduce school absences, increase a parent's ability to get to work and lower housing costs. These investments in proven healthy, safe and energy-efficient housing interventions simply work.  And we have the data to prove that."

Norton noted that GHHI's housing interventions have lowered hospitalizations by more than 65 percent while improving school attendance by 62 percent.

At today's event, GHHI unveiled a new smartphone tool, the "Your Green & Healthy Home" app. The free mobile-ready tool teaches families how to identify hazards in the home that may make them sick. During a brief quiz, the app asks users to find signs of health threats like mold, pests, chipped paint or standing water. The app helps families develop a custom roadmap to eliminate risks and offers helpful DIY tips for simple fixes. For more challenging repairs, the app prompts users to contact GHHI for assistance.

GHHI is working with partners in five cities to explore promising Pay for Success projects benefitting low-income, asthmatic children. These local programs will advance and evaluate new models of funding home-based interventions that produce measurable outcomes such as reducing asthma-related hospitalizations, emergency department visits and missed school days.

This program will be based on the asthma-focused Pay for Success project being explored in Baltimore by a partnership among GHHI, Calvert Foundation and Johns Hopkins Hospital and Healthcare System.

The new HUD grant to Baltimore City is one of several around the country designed to reduce the number of lead-poisoned children and protect families by targeting health hazards in nearly 3,200 low-income homes with significant lead and/or other home health and safety hazards.  The grant will pay for assessments of 330 homes for lead hazards and other environmental health hazards in Baltimore.  Based on the assessments, the grant will help pay for lead hazard control in 230 homes and work to remove other environmental health hazards in 115 homes. 

"We are delighted by this federal grant to continue to bring an end to the toxic legacy of unhealthy housing," Norton said. "It is a tragedy that so many of our young people have been severely injured by conditions inside their own homes. The investments we're making in healthy homes are opening up pathways for children to be resilient and healthy and achieve their full potential."

About the Green & Healthy Homes Initiative
The Green & Healthy Homes Initiative® (GHHI) is a national nonprofit dedicated to breaking the link between unhealthy housing and unhealthy families. Formerly known as the Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning, GHHI replaces stand-alone intervention programs with an integrated, whole-house approach that produces sustainable, green, healthy and safe homes. As a result, we are improving health, economic and social outcomes for families across the country. GHHI serves as the national model for green and healthy homes interventions and is currently working in Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Buffalo, Chicago, Cleveland, Denver, Detroit, Dubuque, Flint, Grand Rapids, Jackson, Lansing, Lewiston Auburn, Marin County, Memphis, New Haven, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Rhode Island, Salt Lake, San Antonio, Springfield, Staten Island and Syracuse.  Learn more at www.ghhi.org or follow us @HealthyHousing

media inquiries

For more information about the Green & Healthy Homes Initiative or to arrange an interview with our President & CEO Ruth Ann Norton, members of the media should contact:

ghhi@berlinrosen.com