Major HUD grant galvanizes Detroit’s efforts to make homes safer and healthier for children and families
Mayor Dave Bing and CLEARCorps Detroit accept $1 million on behalf of 23 public, private and nonprofit partners.
DETROIT – On April 20 CLEARCorps/Detroit, on behalf of its 23 public, private, and nonprofit partners, accepted a check for nearly $1 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) aimed at eliminating health and safety hazards, including lead and asthma triggers, from Detroit homes to make them safer for children and families.
Deputy Secretary Ron Sims presented the check for a $999,995 HUD Healthy Homes production grant to Detroit Mayor Dave Bing and CLEARCorps/Detroit Executive Director Mary Sue Schottenfels during an afternoon press conference. CLEARCorps/Detroit is the lead agency for the Healthy Homes Detroit project. Other public officials and representatives from partner agencies were in attendance at the press conference.
In a prepared statement, Deputy Secretary Sims said: “The home is that place where our kids should feel safe and secure. Where they can grow and play, laugh and cry, under the loving support of their parents and caregivers. The last thing our children need is to be afraid that their home might make them sick. You can’t be healthy if your home is sick. It’s a simple but important principle. A child’s health should not be dictated by his or her zip code.”
Mayor Bing, who is spearheading efforts to revitalize Detroit, commented: “HUD is an invaluable partner to the City of Detroit and its efforts to revitalize and stabilize our neighborhoods. This means safe, environmentally friendly and quality homes for our residents.”
CLEARCorps/Detroit’s partners have contributed $1.3 million in in-kind resources and services, which will be combined with HUD grant monies to create an investment pool of more than $2.3 million to fund the Healthy Homes Detroit project. An important goal of the project is to promote fair housing and environmental equity in the city. Home repairs and improvements completed through this project will increase the quality of housing for families living in the Northend/Central Woodward target area.
The Kresge and Skillman foundations contributed a total of $140,000 in 2010 to allow for the creation and launch of the Healthy Homes Detroit Pilot Project which enabled development of the model and the assessment and remediation of 20 homes. In addition, the national Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning and the national Green and Healthy Homes Initiative contributed matching funds of $215,000 to train low-income Detroit citizens in healthy homes remediation techniques and to contribute to the cost of remediating hazards in targeted homes.
Grant funds also support the development of the Detroit Healthy Homes Database to enable project tracking and coordination across multiple agencies in the Partners Referral Network. Other project objectives include training low-income workers in healthy and green construction techniques and increasing public awareness of the issues surrounding healthy homes.
“The Detroit Department of Health and Wellness Promotion is very excited about the HUD grant awarded to CLEARCorps/Detroit,” said Dr. Yvonne Anthony, the department's director. “As we expand services within the city, it will assure that families, especially children, have safe and healthy living environments and experience positive health outcomes through this collaboration. The department is thankful to have strong partnerships with several organizations that focus on improving children's health. These efforts will contribute significantly to the revitalization of the City of Detroit.”
CLEARCorps/Detroit’s Schottenfels said: “There are a myriad of health issues affecting Detroit homes that evidence has shown are linked to asthma, lead poisoning, and injuries. This grant to fund the Healthy Homes Detroit project will help us address these issues and make Detroit homes safer and healthier for families, especially children. We believe our efforts will be successful because we have so many dedicated partners who bring co-located resources to the project.”
The Healthy Homes Detroit project represents a collaboration of 23 public, private, and nonprofit organizations working together to make Detroit homes safer and healthier. The partners are (in alphabetical order):
Asthma & Allergy Foundation of America-Michigan Chapter
Central Detroit Christian Community Development Corporation
Children’s Hospital of Michigan
Detroit Department of Buildings and Safety Engineering
Detroit Department of Health and Wellness Promotion
Detroit Department of Human Services
Detroit Planning and Development Department
Detroit/Wayne County Green and Healthy Homes Initiative
Greater Woodward Community Development Corporation
Green and Healthy Homes Initiative/The Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning
The Kresge Foundation
Michigan Department of Community Health
Northend Christian Community Development Corporation
Northend Central Woodward Governance Board
The Skillman Foundation
Vanguard Community Development Corporation
WARM Training Center
Wayne County Health Department
Wayne County Prosecutors Office
Wayne State University/Center for Urban Studies
Young Detroit Builders
Project Description: Healthy Homes in Detroit
Problems associated with the home environment affect families of all socioeconomic, geographic, and racial groups. However, the prevalence of home hazards and the negative health outcomes associated with them disproportionately burden those low-income families living in older, poorly maintained homes in urban areas, such as in Detroit.
The Michigan Department of Community Health reports that many health issues are related to the age and condition of Detroit housing. These include:
Asthma: Asthma is more prevalent among children and adults in Detroit than elsewhere in Michigan; asthma hospitalizations are three times higher in Detroit; asthma death rates for Detroit children are more than twice as high as those for other Michigan children.
Lead poisoning: Tests for lead poisoning conducted in 2009 revealed that more than six percent of children under age six living in the Healthy Homes Detroit target area showed elevated levels of lead in their blood, compared to only one percent of all children in Michigan; among all Michigan children hospitalized for severely elevated blood lead levels in 2010, 82 percent lived in Detroit.
Home-related Injuries: In the Healthy Homes Detroit target area, 20 children under age four and 10 children age five to 17 were hospitalized for unintentional injuries in 2008; “9-1-1” records for the target area show 70 calls reported unintentional injuries or falls and more than 50 calls reported fires or burn injuries during 2010.
Pests: Nearly 30 percent of 225 families surveyed in the Healthy Homes Detroit target area reported the presence of rats and/or mice: nearly 10 percent saw evidence of cockroaches; and nine percent reported having bed bugs. These pests are considered to be asthma triggers for children.
The Healthy Homes Detroit project will concentrate its efforts in the Central Detroit/North Woodward neighborhood of Detroit. The target area comprises more than 14 U.S. Census tracts and lies mostly within the 48202, 48206, and 48211 postal (Zip) codes. It is bounded on the south by Grand Boulevard; on the west by Linwood Avenue; on the north by Webb/Woodland Street; and on the east by Interstate-75. This community is a blend of stable homes, deteriorating properties, and vacant lots. It is among the areas specifically targeted for investment by area foundations and has many active community organizations. More than $2.3 million, including HUD grant monies and leveraged dollars, will be invested in this community.
The goals of the Healthy Homes Detroit project are:
- To make 100 homes safe and healthy.
- To create community-wide awareness and action around healthy-homes issues.
- To create a unique, interactive Detroit Healthy Homes Database that will allow data to be shared among agencies.
- To create a sustainable system composed of a network of partner agencies committed to co-locating services in Healthy Homes Detroit homes and beyond.
- To train a minimum of 150 workers in environmental remediation techniques to remove mold, moisture, lead, asbestos, and to learn weatherization and green remediation techniques.
Project strategy and process
The Healthy Homes Detroit project strategy is to create 100 safe and healthy homes using both grant and partner resources. The issues to be addressed include lead, asthma triggers, mold, moisture, pests, energy efficiency, and home-safety hazards. Project staff will work closely with each family, using a case-management approach and following the family through the entire process, including intake, enrollment, assessment, remediation, and follow up/maintenance.
The steps in the process are:
- Create a Healthy Homes Detroit Family Action Plan that identifies remedial work to be completed by all partner organizations, and educate the family about home safety and health practices.
- Spearhead creation of a Partners Referral Network, with agencies that have made a commitment to deliver services, including lead-hazard-control grants, weatherization grants, asthma case management, code enforcement, energy audits, and pest management.
- Pursue a three-tiered remedial approach:
Tier One: All 100 homes will receive “quick fixes” as needed, including installed smoke and carbon-monoxide detectors, radon kits, HEPA vacuums, impermeable mattress covers, and other products. Families will receive education about healthy-homes practices.
Tier Two: All families will receive repairs that address health and safety hazards. Many repairs will happen through Young Detroit Builders, drawn from formerly unemployed Detroit youth under the supervision of a licensed contractor. The national Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning will provide funds for additional repairs, as needed.
Tier Three: The Partners Referral Network will provide substantial grants and program services to address asthma triggers and asthma medical management, lead-poisoning prevention, mold and pest removal, code enforcement, and weatherization.
- Educate employees within partner agencies through healthy-homes workshops and training sessions to ensure the sustainability of the healthy-homes approach.
- Create an interactive healthy-homes database by expanding the existing Detroit Lead Housing Database to include data for each property in the Healthy Homes Detroit project.
CLEARCorps/Detroit has a long and successful history of working to improve housing quality in Detroit. Since its inception in 1999, CLEARCorps/Detroit has reached out to nearly one million Detroit residents, and has pioneered several successful initiatives to address lead poisoning, ranging from working one-on-one with families in 1,000 homes to promoting policy changes on a city and state level. Recently, CLEARCorps/Detroit has expanded its mission and core model to adopt a healthy-homes approach.
CLEARCorps/Detroit is a program of the Southeastern Michigan Health Association, an affiliate of CLEARCorps/USA, and a leading member of the Detroit/Wayne County Green and Healthy Homes Initiative, a consortium of health, governmental, philanthropic, and community-based organizations dedicated to creating green, healthy, energy-efficient homes in Detroit.