Advancing Safe and Healthy Housing Initiative (ASHHI)

Conceived and supported by The Kresge Foundation and launched in 2009 to address health issues that derive — all or in part — from in-home environmental hazards, the Advancing Safe and Healthy Homes Initiative (ASHHI) was a national program that grew from a Kresge Health Program initiative to reduce childhood lead poisoning but expanded into a comprehensive effort to address home hazards such as asthma-triggering allergens, fire hazards, substandard insulation, and weatherization; repair problems, like broken steps and railings; and neighborhood nuisances, like abandoned buildings that invite crime.

ASHHI engaged organizations at the federal, state, and local levels to accelerate the diffusion of healthy home models and improve the health of vulnerable populations across the country. ASHHI promoted comprehensive, community-based assistance designed to mitigate home hazards that affect health and disproportionately impact the disadvantaged.

The program also aimed to build the capacity of federal, state, and local government agencies and nonprofits to reduce the incidence of preventable illnesses, injuries, and hospitalizations caused by home environments; support the development of best practices; and to advance philanthropic investment in the field of healthy homes.

The foundation awarded grants to six communities in Alameda County, California; Detroit, Michigan; Greensboro, North Carolina; Los Angeles, California; Newark, New Jersey; and Omaha, Nebraska, in 2012. The six community sites each focused their efforts on local housing units in which they intended to reduce childhood lead poisoning, asthma-related medical events, and home safety hazards through policy making, advocacy/community organizing, and legal enforcement in the quest for the following:

  • A reduction in childhood lead poisoning – Lead is a highly toxic metal that may cause a range of health problems, especially in young children. When lead is absorbed into the body, it can damage the brain and other vital organs, like the kidneys, and nerves. Deteriorated lead-based paint is the most common lead hazard to children.
  • A reduction in asthma-related medical events – The mold and pests which are prominent in substandard homes are significant contributors to asthma attacks. Mold can grow almost anywhere as the result of humidity or interior moisture, caused by water leaks, spills from bathtubs or showers, or condensation. Pests such as cockroaches, rodents, and bed bugs, as well as the chemicals used to control them, can cause and trigger allergies and asthma by contaminating indoor air.
  • A reduction in home safety hazards – Home accidents kill one person every 16 minutes and injure one person every four seconds in the United States. Common home safety incidents include accidental poisonings, fires and burns, choking/suffocation, drowning, and falls/unintentional injuries.

In addition to the activities undertaken by each of the six grantee communities, the initiative included:

  • Development of a cross-site interactive database.
  • Technical assistance in the areas of information systems development, communications, legal enforcement, policy and advocacy, and sustainability.
  • A national evaluation to document the work, challenges, successes, and lessons learned.
  • Research and publication on the topic – focusing on identifying the return on the investment.

The Team

Leadership
The Kresge Foundation Health Team
National ASHHI Program Office

Evaluation
Michigan Public Health Institute (MPHI)
University of Michigan School of Public Health

Technical Assistance
Amy Murphy Consulting: Strategic planning and program sustainability
ChangeLab Solutions: Policy, advocacy, and legal
Healthy Homes Collaborative: Policy, advocacy, and legal
Logos Communications, Inc.: Communications
National Center for Healthy Housing (NCHH): Policy, advocacy, and legal
Trinity Health Systems: Community benefits
Wayne State University Center for Urban Studies – Information systems

Community Grantees
Alameda County Healthy Homes Department
CLEARCorps/Detroit
Greensboro Housing Coalition
Newark, New Jersey:

Omaha Healthy Kids Alliance
South Los Angeles, California:

Research Grantee
Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) – Lead and Healthy Homes

Federal Partners
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Weatherization and Intergovernmental Program
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Resources

Futures Tools Workbook [pdf]

Webinars:

02/09/15 – Intellectual Property
11/24/14 – Grassroots Fundraising
10/27/14 – One Touch (Contact us using the contact form for the entire webinar)
07/28/14 – Sustainability Planning Questions
06/30/14 – Revitalization Without Displacement
05/19/14 – Housing Checkups
02/20/14 – Communications
01/27/14 – Using Healthy Homes Data to Support Your Work
02/25/13 – Program Sustainability
11/22/13 – Utilizing Legal Tools
12/11/13 – ROI Projects
10/19/12 – Introduction to TA: Communications and Evaluation
10/17/12 – Introduction to TA: Advocacy, Policy-Making and Legal Enforcement