All too often, we assume that a “green” home is also a healthy home. Unfortunately, the two are not always synonymous or aligned. But by working to connect green and healthy, we can stabilize neighborhoods, improve families’ health, and create paths to
high-quality green jobs for those who need work.
The Open Society Foundations (OSF) understands this and has provided $3.2 million to support the Green and Healthy Homes Initiative (GHHI), an effort started by the Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning. GHHI is creating affordable, healthy, safe, and energy-efficient housing units in America’s older neighborhoods. Because of the foundation’s investment, low-income communities in the GHHI sites will have better access to employment, healthier and more energy-efficient housing, and improved health for children and seniors.
Using $3 million of the OSF funds, GHHI will support employment, training, and certification programs for 1,400 unemployed and underemployed residents in low-income communities. These workers will serve the community by addressing environmental health hazards commonly found in homes, and they will be better prepared to compete for green jobs. GHHI is committed to ensuring that at least 40 percent of such jobs go to individuals with criminal histories who routinely face barriers to employment. This will give a second chance to these individuals who need a career foothold and a path to full employment, high- wage jobs, and an opportunity to contribute to the community.
Through OSF’s Neighborhood Stabilization Initiative, the remaining $200,000 will support efforts to develop, advance, and analyze the impact of green and healthy home interventions on foreclosure prevention and neighborhood stabilization. In particular, these funds will be used to analyze data from the Baltimore and Chicago GHHI sites. GHHI currently operates 15 project sites nationally—in 13 cities and with two Native American tribes. More than 30 additional cities and counties have applied to become GHHI sites.
A true public-private partnership, GHHI is led by the Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning and the U.S. Department of Housing and Community Development. Partners include the U.S. Department of Energy, the Centers for Disease Control, the Environmental Protection Agency, the White House Office of Recovery Implementation, NEHA, the Council on Foundations, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, and the National Academy of Public Administration. National, family, community, and corporate foundations also support these efforts.
How can we help you stabilize neighborhoods, increase access to green housing work, and improve health outcomes for children through green and healthy homes in your community? As we engage additional cities and partners, change public policy, and direct funds to address the country’s most distressed housing, we want to hear from you.
Ruth Ann Norton is executive director of the National Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning and GHHI. You can reach her at email@example.com.