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The Green & Healthy Homes Initiative (GHHI), formerly known as the Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning, is recognized as a leader at the local, state and federal levels for its efforts to create green and healthy homes by working with government leaders to enact real, substantive policy changes. In Maryland, where the organization is headquartered, GHHI has led the passage of 27 state and local laws and regulations since 1994.
As GHHI’s work with cities and counties across the nation has grown, so has its work in national advocacy and federal policy. GHHI provides technical assistance or on-the ground direct service in more than twenty states. This broad footprint combined with providing home-based services every day, GHHI brings a unique perspective to policy makers on local and national levels.
GHHI views housing as a platform for stable communities, sustainable jobs and better health, social and economic outcomes for families. Our unique approach eases the burden of unhealthy and energy inefficient homes.
The ultimate goal of GHHI’s national policy and program work is to support and inform the development of new national housing standards that will improve our nation’s housing stock to protect the health and safety of all families while mitigating energy consumption. To do this, GHHI uses both quantitative and qualitative information that is generated from its sites around the country. GHHI utilizes this research to inform housing standards and national policy recommendations. We also look at how the GHHI model can impact neighborhood stabilization, wealth creation and family economic stability.
Currently, the benefits of health-based housing investments largely go unrecognized, resulting in excessive and avoidable costs being absorbed by the healthcare sector, homeowners and taxpayers. GHHI works to pivot from the status quo to eliminate existing health, safety and energy inefficiencies in the home simultaneously through integrated interventions by aligning existing programs and braiding government, philanthropic and private sector investments. National recommendations on green and healthy homes have been developed with the National Academy of Public Administration. GHHI has also produced papers on opportunities to integrate weatherization with health and how pay for success/social impact bonds could be utilized to fund healthy homes, particularly around asthma management. GHHI regularly meets with federal agencies and Congressional offices to inform them on key findings from the healthy homes sector and best practices from the field.
Public Policy Impact
Since the launch of the Federal Interagency Healthy Homes Work Group, GHHI has advised the group on best practices and policy recommendations. GHHI was cited in the Work Group’s report, “Leading Our Nation to Healthier Homes: The Healthy Homes Strategic Plan.” GHHI’s work was also promoted as a best practice in the White House report, “A New Way of Doing Business.” The U.S. Conference of Mayors adopted a resolution supporting GHHI and our efforts to expand the nation’s stock of affordable, green, healthy and sustainable housing. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development incorporated GHHI principles into the general Notice of Funds Availability (NOFA) that can provide points in competitive applications. One of the priorities is to increase energy efficiency and health and safety of homes, including comprehensive assessments and interventions.
GHHI has systematically altered the landscape of lead poisoning and healthy housing in Maryland by creating effective services and service delivery systems for families living in low income communities. One of the organization’s strengths is its ability to identify resources and create policies to overcome barriers to affordable, healthy and lead safe housing.
· Maryland policy requiring the performance of specific lead safe standards and the passage of a lead dust clearance test prior to occupancy of any rental unit built before 1978
· Requiring that all home repair and renovation jobs that fall under the auspices of the EPA’s Repair, Repainting and Renovation Rule must include the passage of a lead dust clearance test
· Passage of the Maryland Lead Risk Reduction in Housing Law that requires all pre-1978 rental properties to register with the state and comply with lead safe repair and testing stands prior to occupancy as well as providing key rights to tenants for protection.
· Requiring all children attending pre-school have proof they are screened for lead
· Requiring universal testing of 1 and 2 year olds in Baltimore and other at-risk areas
· Requiring paint retailers to post information on lead safe work practices
· Allowing judges to require lead hazard control in response to rent escrow action
· Prohibiting the collection of rent by landlords not in compliance with state law (“Clean Hands Bill”)
· Closing dangerous loopholes in legislation regarding lead dust testing
· Doubling fines for failure to comply with lead safe standards
· Created interagency agreements that require all Section 8 units to comply with Maryland Lead Risk Reduction in Housing Law
· Chaired Baltimore City enforcement task force for policy to reinstate the enforcement of health department lead violations
· Authored “Windows of Opportunity” strategic plan resulting in $50 million toward lead poisoning prevention statewide and the Comprehensive State Action Plan in 2005 that created a relocation fund and set forth the need for lead dust testing.