Announcing NCHH’s Code Comparison Tool… and Why You Should Use It
by Jo Miller and Christopher Bloom
With National Healthy Homes Month in full swing, and while you’re thinking about healthy housing, now’s the perfect time for us to show you how to increase the number of safe and healthy homes in your community by understanding and strengthening your local housing and maintenance codes.
Maybe you’ve already heard that we at NCHH recently unveiled our new online Code Comparison Tool. (If you haven’t, we suggest that you follow NCHH on Twitter to hear all of our latest news.) We’re extremely excited about the tool, and we want everyone to use it right away. That’s why we made it free.
What Is the Code Comparison Tool?
NCHH created the Code Comparison Tool as an interactive extension to the National Healthy Housing Standard (which we published in 2014 with APHA). The Code Comparison Tool allows users to determine how weak or strong their housing codes are simply by answering a series of questions. The only requirement is that you must have access to your city or county’s codes. Once you have your codes available, you can use the Code Comparison Tool to compare and review your local housing and property codes to both the International Property Maintenance Code (IPMC) and the National Healthy Housing Standard simultaneously. You can complete one, some, or all of the 12 sections of the Code Comparison Tool and receive customized recommendations for how to strengthen housing codes.
Another great feature of the Code Comparison Tool is that it also includes stretch provisions. “Stretch provisions” are suggestions that NCHH and a team of health and housing experts drafted (published in the National Healthy Homes Standard) for ways that codes could be strengthened beyond the IPMC requirements. The stretch provisions are not part of the Code Comparison Tool‘s scoring system, but they do appear as recommendations in the report that the tool generates.
Why Use the Code Comparison Tool?
One of the ways that we can make our homes and neighborhoods healthier is by improving the maintenance codes that govern our housing standards. The weaker the code, the more defects slip through uncorrected on our housing. Strong codes – and the inspections, enforcement, and routine maintenance that result from them – are essential tools toward recognizing housing-related hazards and preventing future disease and injury, such as asthma, lead poisoning, trips and falls, fires, and carbon monoxide poisoning – to name but a few.
Are You Qualified to Use the Code Comparison Tool?
But wait: Who are you? How do you know if you’re qualified to use NCHH’s Code Comparison Tool? Maybe you’re a code compliance officer, or maybe you’re a teacher. Maybe you’re a public health worker, or maybe you’re a grandparent. Maybe you’re the governor, the mayor, or a city council member; or maybe you’re a stay-at-home parent. Maybe you’re a “soccer mom” who wants to create a healthy environment for your kids – in between goals, orange slices, and mislaid shin guards.
The answer is that it doesn’t matter who you are or what you do for a living. These are your requirements:
- You want to update your codes or adopt some healthy homes-related provisions into your housing or property codes; and/or
- You want to assess your current housing/property maintenance codes and explore opportunities to update your codes to better serve your community; and/or
- Your community would benefit from regulations and industry practices that bridge housing and health codes and recognized minimum performance standards for a safe and healthy home.
You Used the Tool. Now What?
After you use the Code Comparison Tool and submit one or more sections, you’ll receive recommendations to strengthen your policies and codes. The recommendations provide you with concrete information to take the next step in strengthening your codes. Even better, the recommendations, based on the National Healthy Housing Standard, are written in code language to ease their adoption, though we anticipate that localities will tailor it to local conditions.
If you’re a city or county official, you’ll know just what to do with this information. If not, we can help you to get those code recommendations to the right people.
Your Feedback Helps Us Improve the Tool
We’ve invested quite a bit of time bringing the Code Comparison Tool to life, but we need your help to perfect it. That’s why we added an exit survey. You’re not required to fill it out, but if you have comments on how you think we might improve it further, we want to hear from you. And if you just want to tell us that you thought it was easy to use, well, that’s helpful too.
So, why not check out the Code Comparison Tool today?
Jo Miller, GPC, SMS, has worked as a part of the NCHH team since 2016, providing strategy, technical assistance, and training for communication and community engagement. A 20-year healthy housing and lead poisoning prevention veteran, she has worked with lead and healthy homes programs throughout the country to build stronger partnerships, innovative approaches, and secure grant funds. As a grant professional, Ms. Miller also specializes in nonprofit and community development as well as grant professional training. Ms. Miller is also a Social Media Strategist (SMS) and trainer, by the Grant Professional Certification Institute as Grant Professional Certified, and as an approved trainer by the Grant Professionals Association.
Christopher Bloom is NCHH’s communications and marketing officer. He joined NCHH in 2008 after nearly a decade in the real estate industry. In a previous role at NCHH, he coordinated a national Renovation, Repair, and Painting (RRP) training program, one of the most successful in the nation. Mr. Bloom holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Textual Studies from Syracuse University.