Strategies for Continuing Healthy Homes Activities While Social Distancing

Within the healthy housing field, there is an intense interest in learning about innovative adaptations and new ways to continue healthy homes activities during this time of social distancing. In response to this interest, requests for information and tools, and ongoing conversations between the National Center for Healthy Housing (NCHH) and multiple stakeholders across several of our key initiatives, NCHH published this peer-sharing series in November and December 2020. The examples highlighted in this series provide not only a firsthand perspective of the exciting work undertaken by this and other change leaders around the country to develop new strategies or layer additional components into larger systems but also a way to contact them for additional information. Use these real-world strategies as a resource to maintain, improve, and expand healthy housing activities or when considering your own local possibilities during this difficult time.

City of Buffalo, NY: Good Neighbors Network
In response to Buffalo’s stay-at-home order, the City of Buffalo started the Good Neighbors Network to connect residents with services and allow others to check on them. Good Neighbors Network volunteers drop off door hangers with information about city services and the city’s 311 line for non-urgent needs at properties in the neighborhoods at greatest risk for COVID-19. The City of Buffalo started this program to ensure that residents are making use of the city’s services, to reach those who may otherwise be isolated, and to provide wellness checks.

City of Paterson, NJ: Integrating Lead Poisoning Prevention Outreach and Awareness into COVID-19 Contact Tracing
As part of their COVID-19 contact tracing efforts, the City of Paterson’s Division of Health staff incorporate healthy homes messaging in their outreach phone calls. While attempting to reduce the risks related to the transmission of COVID-19, the city is also including messaging during interviews with residents who have tested positive specifically about lead poisoning prevention to help create a safer home environment as people spend more time in their homes.

Healthy Homes Coalition of West Michigan: Community Education and Communication
Healthy Homes Coalition of West Michigan launched a virtual “Staying Safe at Home” messaging and communications campaign to link healthy homes issues to how people think about COVID-19. Using Facebook, blogs, YouTube, and MailChimp, and other media, this campaign shares messaging on asthma, lead, and other healthy homes topics to compliment pandemic-related messaging and reach those at greater risk of contracting COVID-19.

Isles, Inc.: Virtual Lead and Healthy Homes Inspections and Resident Education During COVID-19
To provide lead and healthy homes services while maintaining physical distancing, Isles, Inc. piloted a virtual approach to performing home assessments. These interior home assessments are handled virtually through video conferencing if residents are not comfortable with the interior assessments being performed by community health workers practicing social distancing and wearing masks and additional personal protective equipment. With the use of video phone apps such as FaceTime, GoToMeeting, and Skype, virtual visits are accompanied by an exterior home assessments and provision of resident lead education materials.

New York City Department of Environmental Health: Conducting Inspections in NYC for Complaints of Unsafe Work Practices While Renovating Residences During the COVID-19 Pandemic
As a result of the pandemic, the New York City (NYC) Division of Environmental Health’s Childhood Lead Poisoning Primary Prevention Program (CLPPPP) has implemented a revised inspection protocol to address unsafe work complaints while protecting inspector staff, tenants, and construction workers from potential exposure from the coronavirus. The revised protocol includes criteria to conduct field inspections and follow-up activities and aims to minimize the time spent in apartments and building common areas.

Omaha Healthy Kids Alliance: Engaging Residents with Technology During COVID-19 to Perform Home Assessments and Interventions
Omaha Healthy Kids Alliance has developed a set of protocols to continue serving their clients during COVID-19. To perform healthy homes assessments, an intake survey is conducted to determine the most appropriate type of visit and to provide resident education. The protocols then include performing a visit using full personal protective equipment, social distancing, and other directed healthy measures—or a hybrid visit utilizing video conferencing.