State and Local Spotlight:
Tohn Environmental Strategies
Tohn Environmental Strategies is an environmental health policy firm working at the intersection of health, housing, and energy. We are a small business located in Wayland, Massachusetts, and provide assessments of healthy housing and green building practices.
One Touch is a program focusing on creating energy efficient and healthy homes. We work with energy, health, and housing home visit and repair programs to increase family access to safe housing services. We created a common home check and electronic referral system for government and nonprofit partners that “touch” homes in the areas of health, housing, and energy to ensure that clients get the services they need. Programs are often limited in the work they can fund and deliver. Clients, especially lower-income households, have multifaceted needs that often can’t be resolved by one organization. Our One Touch program creates local coalitions of these service providers to ensure that clients have their needs met. We also collect data from these partnerships to inform future strategic planning.
One Touch provides direct services to clients through creation of local collaboration. It allows communities to build a local referral system, using template tools we’ve crafted. One Touch operates in Vermont; Rhode Island; Hartford, Connecticut; Kansas City, Missouri; and Waterbury, Connecticut. Each location sees collaboration among Community Action Partnership agencies; health programs, such as lead poisoning, asthma, and injury prevention; weatherization providers; smoking cessation; and housing rehab programs. We’ve addressed challenges of data privacy and the time needed for additional assessments through careful development of collection tools, clear consent forms, and the ease of additional services provided through the local One Touch coalitions.
The project timeline is typically 12 to 18 months, and we just recently finished the Vermont One Touch project. It was a success, with over 2,600 single-family homes assessed and only 20% of them needing a service from another provider. Thirty percent (30%) of the referrals made have resulted in completed services. This project has launched new collaborations between local health and energy groups, including hospitals and health departments, to ensure injury prevention in home modifications. We have successfully built new partnerships across industries and created a sustainable electronic cross-referral system, making healthy housing efforts more efficient and successful and creating a stronger network of resources for clients.