Metropolitan Tenants Association

1727 South Indiana Avenue, Suite G3 Chicago, IL 60616

With funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, NCHH has funded two rounds of Healthy Homes Workforce Development Mini-Grants, with applications open during late 2017 and spring 2018. These mini-grants help communities develop their workforce capacity to offer home-visiting services related to healthy homes, and to build a pool of trained community health workers (CHWs) trained in the healthy homes principles.
As a major Metropolitan area, Chicago still has more kids poisoned by lead than other major cities. Part of this is due to a significant divestment in the health and wellness access for low-income, people of color. Chicago now has significantly fewer inspectors now than 15 years ago. This means that families must wait longer for inspections and follow-ups. MTO has worked with several families that have decided to move to a new home rather than wait for rehab work to be completed. They did not want to risk their children’s health any more than it already had been. The gap in access to healthy homes can be lessened if more training is available and accessible for community health workers and community organizers.
As a current 2018 mini-grantee, MTO is organizing a series of four healthy homes practitioner trainings for CHWs and healthcare professionals among Chicago hospitals and health provider networks. MTO’s healthy homes practitioner trainings will equip more health workers with the essential knowledge and tools to teach clients how to identify and address home-based health hazards and share preventative exposure methods and support services to remediate unhealthy living conditions. The long-term goal of the project is to grow the intersecting pool of expert-supporters for proactive inspections in Chicago among renters, parents, doctors, pediatricians, community health workers, medical researchers, social services providers, and housing advocates.

With funding from the Health Impact Project, a collaboration between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts, NCHH awarded 15 $5,000 Lead Poisoning Awareness Community Mini-Grants in 2017. These grants were for community events focused on raising awareness, engaging community leaders in advocacy, or motivating policy change around lead poisoning prevention.
As a mini-grantee, MTO collaborated with People for Community Recovery, an environmental-housing justice organization, to host a Lead Poisoning Awareness & Solutions Town Hall. Both organizations’ constituencies are predominately black, female, and low-income renters and both agencies are adamant about healthy homes initiatives, particularly lead prevention, abatement, and solutions. The event focused on the dangers of lead poisoning, the impact of lead poisoning on families and suggestions for next steps and for how participants can get engaged in furthering the work of lead poisoning prevention with a particular focus on supporting of proactive building inspections process.
The discussion was moderated by Healthy Homes Organizer, Angelica Ugarte with a panel of Community and Lead Poisoning Awareness experts including Cheryl Johnson, Executive Director of People for Community Recovery; Dr. David Jacobs, Researcher with the National Center for Healthy Housing, Dr. Helen Binns, pediatrician with Lurie’s Children Hospitals, and Tolanda McMullen, Parent-Advocate.
During the Q & A and comments section community participants explained the need for an ordinance for proactive building inspections. Seattle and Boston have similar laws. CHHIP- Chicago Healthy Homes Inspection Program is a proposed solution to identifying and supporting troubled apartments early on to prevent home hazard exposures to children and renters. Chicago’s “affordable” communities of color, like Englewood and North Lawndale, primarily has an aged, deteriorating housing stock, increasing the chances of home based hazardous. Mothers are left to choose between living with such conditions or being without a home, particularly if they don’t have the support and resources need to intervene and remediate the issue. The city’s current system of reporting lead hazards in apartments after a child has been poisoned is failing our children. Mothers are left to blow the whistle on their landlord with little to no protection against retaliatory eviction or uprooting their families to another “affordable unit” with similar home-hazard issues.
In advertising the event, MTO reached out to City Department of Health, Chicago aldermen and EPA. We also invited community organizations and community residents. As a result of the outreach, 40 people attended the event. The event strengthened relationships with People for Community Recovery and Imagine Englewood If, two community groups focused on lead poisoning prevention, as well as the Chicago Department of Public Health, which is part of a coalition working for proactive inspections. After the town hall, MTO has followed up with participants to invite them to these coalition meetings.

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