Green & Healthy Homes Initiative
In communities like Buffalo that struggle with an aging and deteriorating housing stock as well as high poverty and unemployment rates, many children and their families are forced to live in homes that are unhealthy, unsafe and not energy efficient.
These factors can contribute to serious problems such as frequent visits to the emergency room for uncontrolled asthma due to mold exposure; poor academic performance due to brain damage from lead poisoning; and increased poverty due to high heating bills.
Despite the fact that these issues are all related to housing, the current method for addressing them relies on disparate programs with little or no coordination.
The Green & Healthy Homes Initiative (GHHI) is a model to redefine home-based health and safety funding and programs so that they are at once more effective in terms of health outcomes and more efficient in terms of cost savings. The GHHI approach also provides economic benefit to families in the form of cost savings, develops career pathways to higher-paying ‘green’ jobs, and produces more stable neighborhoods by increasing the quality of housing stock.
GHHI is a public-private partnership between the federal government, national and local philanthropy, the National Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning and local partners. In 2010, GHHI launched 14 initial pilot projects in communities around the country – 12 cities and two Native American Tribes. In November, 2010, in recognition of both the tremendous need and public/private resources available in our community, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced at a meeting at the White House that Buffalo was selected to join the original fourteen pilot sites across the United States in participating in the national Green & Healthy Homes Initiative (GHHI). Buffalo was chosen over 24 cities seeking this designation.
Based on models from around the country, Buffalo’s Green & Healthy Homes Initiative will align and coordinate public and private funding sources and programs for weatherization, lead hazard control, asthma control, and other home health and safety interventions in low income homes. Homes with vulnerable populations such as children and seniors will be given priority. Under the green and healthy model, comprehensive whole-house solutions replace a piecemeal approach that has been based more on government silos than on the needs of children and families.