Monday, June 2, 2014

National Center for Healthy Housing releases healthy housing standard

News from NHC's family of members
by Radiah Shabazz, National Housing Conference

The 100 million homes in the United States will soon have the option to adopt the new National Healthy Housing Standard, unveiled last month by NHC member National Center for Healthy Housing (NCHH) and the American Public Health Association. The health-driven standard can be adopted by government agencies as a regulation or as a voluntary best practice for property maintenance by communities and property owners.

NCHH’s 2013 report, State of Healthy Housing, studied housing conditions in 46 metro areas nationwide and found that about 40 percent of homes in these areas have one or more health and safety hazards. Drawing from data collected in the American Housing Survey, the report also reveals that over 6 million housing units are considered to be substandard. The new standard is designed to help to lower this rate, which has remained stagnant for over a decade.

“We are calling on federal, state and local agencies to seek adoption of this health-based standard to ensure that every person in America has access to a safe and healthy home,” said Dr. Thomas Vernon, chair of NCHH’s Board of Directors.

The work NCHH is doing to promote healthy housing standards demonstrates the incredible link that housing has to health and wellbeing. With approximaetely 25% of asthma cases linked to poor environmental conditions in homes, NHC champions efforts to promote the intersections between housing and health. The Center for Housing Policy is working directly with NCHH to keep the housing and health communities connected by helping the public health community bring health impact into the forefront of housing policy decisions.

This kind of effort also demonstrates why it’s important to support funding for federal data collection efforts like the American Housing Survey. These services give housing advocates and practitioners an accurate view into what communities need and help to facilitate targeted solutions like the National Healthy Housing Standard. Last week NHC joined stakeholders to advocate for continued funding for the Census Bureau and we will continue to support any ongoing efforts to maintain data collection.

The standard is based on evidence gathered from environmental public health services, engineering and building science and was overseen by NCHH and a technical review work group comprised of international experts and leading housing professionals. 

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