U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Press Release

2015 HUD Secretary’s Award for Healthy Homes Winners Announced

Alaska, Maine, Missouri and Wisconsin programs cited as national models

WASHINGTON – Four model programs in Alaska, Maine, Missouri and Wisconsin are winners of the inaugural HUD Secretary’s Award for Healthy Homes, each being recognized for excellence in promoting resident health through housing interventions.  The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) selected:

  1. Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium in Anchorage, Alaska;
  2. Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics in Kansas City, Missouri;
  3. Breathe Easy Coalition of Maine in Portland, Maine; and
  4. Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority in Madison, Wisconsin.

Each awardee demonstrated that their activities or policies showed measurable benefits in the health of lower income residents.  The awards were presented at the NEHA Annual Educational Conference & Exhibition in Orlando, Florida on July 13.

“From reducing second-hand smoke to improving the lives of children with asthma and allergies, these organizations are leading the way in creating healthy environments for families to thrive,” said HUD Secretary Julián Castro.  “I commend these winners for their efforts, and look forward to working with all our partners to enhance the well-being of Americans today, tomorrow, and always.”

The 2015 HUD Secretary’s Healthy Homes Award recognizes excellence in healthy housing innovation and achievement in three categories:

Healthy Homes Innovation and Achievement in Cross Sector Coordination among Health, Environment and Housing (Two Awardees):

Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium – The Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC) provides comprehensive medical and preventive health services for Alaska Natives and American Indians residing in Alaska. In 2011, the ANTHC’s Environmental Health Program assembled a diverse group of partners to develop and test an intervention to reduce the need for respiratory medical care among high risk Native children through healthier housing and improved air quality.  Interventions included addressing mold and moisture problems, improving ventilation, changing out old leaky woodstove with more efficient models and providing education to reinforce healthy behaviors.   After 3 years, involving 63 homes and 8 communities, the program has documented effectiveness. Pre- and post-intervention air monitoring found a 26% decrease in carbon dioxide, a 68% decrease in volatile organic compounds, and a 21% decrease in particulates. Data from the lung health questionnaires shows a 50% reduction in clinic visits and 27% reduction in missed days of school due to respiratory symptoms.

Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics (CMH) is a non-profit academic hospital in Kansas City, Missouri.  CHM developed a comprehensive Center for Environmental Health that provides patient based services, provider education, professional training and community outreach and advocacy, while supporting environmental research on children’s health. Through a series of successful HUD healthy homes demonstration grants, EPA grants, and foundation grants, combined with help and collaboration from dedicated community partners, the CMH assessed environmental conditions and performed repairs or provided healthy home supplies in over 700 homes.  These efforts resulted in the development of an effective case management service model that has been effective at improving the health of pediatric patients with asthma and allergies, or who are lead poisoned.

Healthy Homes Innovation and Achievement in Public Policy:

Smoke-Free Housing Coalition of Maine – The Smoke-Free Housing Coalition of Maine is a leader in the smoke-free housing movement for 13 years, is working to reduce involuntary exposure to secondhand smoke for tenants across Maine.   With the Coalition leading the charge, Maine became the first state in the nation to implement a 100% smoke-free policy as a threshold requirement for its state Tax Credit Qualified Allocation Plan application.  In addition, all 20 of Maine’s Public Housing Authorities have adopted a smoke-free housing policy to make their buildings, including individual units and common areas, smoke-free.  Maine was the first state in the nation to protect all of its public housing tenants from secondhand smoke.  These public policies have also fostered changes in private sector housing.  A recent state-wide survey found that 65% of Maine landlords report having a smoke-free policy and 62% of tenants report living in a 100% smoke-free building.

Healthy Homes Innovation and Achievement in Public Housing/ Multifamily Supported Housing:

Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) provided construction and permanent loans, and Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) to finance Highland Commons, a 50-unit development in West Allis, Wisconsin.  Highland Commons was designed to meet the special needs of tenants with persistent mental illness.  All of the units are set-aside for households at or below 60% of County Median Income.  Services are provided at no charge to residents through a Wellness Recovery Action Plan designed for each resident based on their individual needs.  Two years after its opening, Highland Commons has helped improve the quality of life for its residents with: 1) an increase in daily living skills, 2) a decrease in psychiatric hospitalization or Primary Care Sensitive visits, and 3) an ability to achieve housing stability with an apartment rental lasting more than a year.

The jury for the HUD Secretary Awards included: Sandra Whitehead, MPA, PhD, NEHA Healthy Homes and Healthy Communities Technical Advisor (Director of Healthy Community Design, NACCHO, Washington, DC); Felix Zemel, MCP, MPH, REHS/RS, CEHT, HHS, DAAS, NEHA Land Use Planning and Design Technical Advisor (Health Agent, Cohasset Board of Health, Cohasset, MA); Stephan Ruckman, NEHA Schools and Institutions Technical Advisor (EH Manager, Worthington City Schools, Dublin, OH); Tara Gurge, MS, RS, NEHA Radiation and Radon Technical Advisor (EH Agent, Town of Needham Public Health Dept., Needham, MA); and David Gilkey, PhD, NEHA Air Quality Technical Advisor (Associate Professor, Colorado State University.

HUD’s mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet at www.hud.govandhttp://espanol.hud.gov.

You can also connect with HUD on social media and follow Secretary Castro on Twitter and Facebook or sign up for news alerts on HUD’s Email List.

NEHA is a professional society with more than 4,500 members in the public and private sectors as well as in universities and uniformed services.  NEHA’s mission, “to advance the environmental health and protection professional for the purpose of providing a healthful environment for all,” is fulfilled in the products and services offered by NEHA to advance the environmental health professional through training, education, networking, professional development, and policy involvement opportunities.

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