As of this writing, more than 150 million people in the US have been asked to stay in their homes to help combat the dangerous and deadly spread of the COVID-19 virus. While this is critical to protecting the health of every American, we know these unprecedented times and actions may have many unintended consequences.
We know the spread of the virus is greatly curtailed by social distancing and staying in our homes, however, we also recognize that more than 30 million families, often in low income neighborhoods, live in homes that pose immediate serious health risks and exacerbate underlying illnesses such as asthma, allergies, and other respiratory conditions, as well as mental health challenges. In addition, far too many children and pregnant women are still exposed to lead hazards in their homes. The extended time spent indoors during this time could result in serious and long-term negative health outcomes for these children and families.
Using our history and capacity to develop innovative, data-driven, and nimble solutions, the Green & Healthy Homes Initiative (GHHI) is firmly committed to continuing to serve our clients and communities by addressing and mitigating the risks presented by the extended stays in unhealthy housing made necessary by the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Keeping Families Safe at Home During COVID-19
GHHI is working with our government, healthcare and nonprofit partners across the nation to implement a Healthy Housing response program to deliver education, assessment and hazard prevention supplies to our most vulnerable families and seniors. Our own teams are launching efforts in Baltimore City, MD, Jackson, MS, Memphis, TN and Providence, RI and supporting partners across the country. Each program, through telephonic and online platforms, is following state health agency and CDC guidance to ensure the safety of its staff and clients while meeting our mission to protect those who are most in need and yet have the least resources to handle housing challenges posed by this crisis.
GHHI hosted a webinar that included Ruth Ann Norton, our President & CEO, in conversation with Dr. David Dyjack, Executive Director of the National Environmental Health Association, and information presented by Paul Haan of Healthy Homes Coalition of Western Michigan. View the slides.
Actions We Are Taking
• Launching a GHHI web page devoted to the resources focused on the protection of our fellow citizens and keeping homes healthy and safe during COVID-19.
• Engaging telephonic and online platforms for environmental health education, housing assessments and referral sources to address emergency needs and provide prevention education sessions on lead poisoning, reduction of allergy and asthma triggers, structural safety and injury prevention.
• Providing virtual environmental assessments to help identify hazards and provide advice to protect families from harm.
• Delivering (when possible) Healthy Housing Supply Kits to families and older adults most at risk. Based on need, the kits may include some or all of the following:
• HEPA Vacuums
• Environmentally friendly cleaning supplies
• Furnace Filters
• Mattress and Pillow Covers
• Water Filtration Pitcher
• Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Alarms
• Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Supplies
We are quickly adapting our direct service model to meet the changing needs of our most vulnerable children, families, and seniors during this time.
The families we serve need all of us more than ever and GHHI is committed to ensuring that they are not left behind.
Ruth Ann Norton, President and CEO
Joy Thomas Moore, Chair, Board of Directors
If you would like to support these efforts, you can give online at ghhi.org/donate.