At the Funders’ Network, we believe shelter should transcend structure and provide a home that offers good life chances and prosperity. We strive for this opportunity to be made available to everyone. Unfortunately, all too often, where people live limits their opportunities and diminishes their prosperity. Generations of chronic disinvestment in low-income communities have left more than six million families trapped in unhealthy and energy inefficient housing.
How do we create green and healthy homes in low-income communities across the nation and establish a new way of approaching home repair and improvement? By aligning and coordinating the resources of philanthropy, government, and other partners. The Green and Healthy Homes Initiative (GHHI) we support represents a new strategic partnership. By addressing housing concerns in a holistic manner, GHHI can reduce lead poisoning, asthma, and home-related injuries across the nation and help residents save money by reducing a home’s energy costs.
The stakes are high. Every year, 800,000 asthma-related ER visits result in $5 billion in preventable medical costs. Forty percent of asthma episodes are caused by asthma triggers in the home, and asthma is now the number-one medical cause of school absenteeism among children and has a prevalence rate that is 60 percent higher among African-American children than among white children. In addition, 13 million preventable home-related injuries cost $222 billion each year.
Coordinating stakeholders at the decision-making level and braiding funding streams are powerful tools; they can create green and healthy homes for vulnerable families and communities in distress. Please join us at our Common Space session to discuss the challenges and opportunities of establishing a national health-based housing standard and how you can leverage results for this vital work.
Ben Starrett is the executive director of Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities