Everyone Deserves to Live in a Home Free of Contaminants

Healthy Homes

OUR PRIORITIES

Raise awareness and provide education about early detection and prevention of lead poisoning and mitigation of asthma triggers.

Provide families with resources and refer them to available services.

Identify advocacy issues and use data and the voice of families to inform policy change.

CO-CHAIRS

Rhonda Lewis, LISC Greater Newark
Stephanie Greenwood, Victoria Foundation

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

A healthy home supports the well-being of the people living there and is free of health hazards, namely asthma triggers and childhood lead poisoning.

Recently it has been revealed that a number of schools in Newark have lead in the water due to aging pipes. While lead exposure from school supplied water is troublesome, the more significant lead exposures for children in Newark are likely related to household paint chips from older homes.

Data from the NJ Department of Health indicated that 5.7% of Newark children under the age of six have blood lead levels greater than 5 micrograms per deciliter. Since lead exposure at levels as low as 5 mcg/dl can contribute to lowered IQ and behavioral problems in children, aggressive efforts must be made to eliminate lead from homes and schools.

CURRENT WORK

Lead Remediation and Education in Fairmount Heights and Clinton Hill

Current work in these neighborhoods includes leveraging a Partners in Place grant and matching funds totaling $120,000 to:

  • Conduct remediation and weatherization for 40 families
  • Provide case management for children EBL 3+
  • Door-to-door outreach and conduct healthy homes assessments
  • Distribute household cleaning kits, mattress covers, etc.
  • Conduct community presentations on tips for a healthy home

Despite the good work taking place there are challenges needing to be overcome including:

  • Convincing residents to allow outreach workers to conduct lead assessments
  • Identifying households that meet the state’s remediation criteria
  • Getting landlords to agree to have the homes remediated or weatherized

The next steps in our neighborhood outreach include:

  • La Casa hiring an additional outreach worker to partner with schools, early childhood programs and community-based orgs to identify families at risk
  • Leveraging funding to recruit and train a team of Resident Outreach Workers

Collecting Data to Advocate for Policy Changes

The ACNJ conducted focus groups with parents.  The takeaways were startling:

  • Parents are generally aware of the impacts of asthma and lead, asthma more so than lead and the importance of testing
  • Parents don’t know about where to go for resources, especially for lead home testing, remediation and the city-provided blood lead testing
  • Parents were also unaware of school-based asthma resources outside of school-provided inhalers
  • Some parents see landlords as an obstacle – failing to take action on complaints of rodents and cockroaches, heating problems
  • Parents suggested outreach needs to happen outside of a M-F (9-5pm) and should target neighbor-to-neighbor, block parties and working with different community groups

What we are planning next

  • Doubling down on outreach efforts to identify homes for lead remediation in target neighborhoods
  • Conducting community education events on lead and asthma and incentivizing home assessments with cash and the home cleaning kits
  • Preparing recommendations for the City and state on specific policy changes and ways existing resources could be better utilized
  • Working with the Healthy Homes Impact Team to strengthen our asthma strategy