City of Dallas

The National Center for Healthy Housing (NCHH) launched the 1,000 Communities campaign to reduce substandard housing while maintaining affordability in 1,000 communities nationwide. Dallas, TX,  was chosen as one of two Learning Community locations for the initiative, along with Seattle/King County, WA. In the learning communities, local health, housing, and allied groups were convened and supported through research and technical assistance to develop and begin implementation of healthy housing strategies to support safe, healthy, affordable housing, and resident health.

In Dallas, the campaign found a home in the Physical Environments Working Group of the Health and Wellness Alliance for Children. The campaign is co-chaired by the Alliance and Dallas Area Habitat for Humanity. Campaign efforts in Dallas have centered on reducing housing risk exposure and housing-related health problems, often specifically related to asthma and respiratory issues.

The Health and Wellness Alliance for Children (Alliance) was established by Children’s Health as an independent nonprofit organization and represents a broad coalition of community organizations determined to improve the health and well-being of children. The Alliance has several community action teams/working groups whose members represent other nonprofit organizations, local and national businesses, and members from faith-based organizations, as well as the City of Dallas and NCHH. One of the Alliance’s working groups, called Physical Environments, is tasked with improving physical environments, specifically housing, where asthma triggers can significantly impact children’s health.

As part of the 1,000 Communities campaign, the working group has developed three strategies to improve healthy housing, including policy changes, a data collection strategy, and a pilot program. The pilot program will serve impacted residents in a targeted Dallas ZIP code that has the highest rate of asthma-related Emergency Department visits, along with high rates of poor-quality housing, as determined by assessors. The strategy continues to evolve during monthly Physical Environments Working Group meetings, and is a living document guiding this group’s work.

What Made the Dallas Learning Community Special?

Features of the Dallas 1,000 Communities Learning Community campaign:

  • Partnerships across sectors
  • Strong processes for community engagement and community-driven priorities
  • Co-leadership by health and housing organizations
  • grassroots campaign to strengthen code enforcement and reduce asthma
  • Engagement of multiple hospitals
  • Publicly available housing quality data
  • Health data made available by local hospitals (while protecting patient confidentiality)
  • Geocoding and map overlays of health and housing data provided by strong data team

Strategies for Success
Strategy 1
Advocate for changes to City of Dallas housing code ordinances
 (read more).

  • Pass revised code.
  • Support code-enforcement training for City of Dallas Code Compliance staff.
  • Conduct an education campaign for homeowners, landlords, and renters.
  • Mitigate economic hardship to low-income homeowners who must improve housing to stay in compliance with new code.
  • Increase data gathering and capacity.
  • Create a connected system of referrals.

Strategy 2
Implement a pilot project to coordinate investment and services in targeted neighborhoods to improve housing and health outcomes, with a focus on childhood asthma
 (read more).

  • Identify geography and populations to serve.
  • Develop a linked, coordinated list of partners for implementation, with assigned roles and responsibilities.
  • Monitor asthma control of children within households.

Strategy 3
Identify baseline data for the pilot community and overall city of Dallas and determine what data points should be used to set goals and track progress
 (read more).

  • Strengthen the city’s housing data collection system.
  • Develop a system to collect interior housing data.
  • Incorporate data collection and evaluation into the execution of strategies 1 and 2.

When the 1,000 Communities campaign pilot launched in Dallas, the Alliance convened key community stakeholders to gather feedback on these strategies. That feedback will be used to guide the Physical Environments Working Group’s efforts as they move forward with the 1,000 Communities campaign.

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