Dallas Leads USA with Focus on Healthy Housing

The journey for improving healthy housing in Dallas has its beginnings centered around asthma.  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, Texas was chosen as one of two Learning Community locations for the initiative, along with Seattle/King County, Washington. 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 in support of safe, healthy, affordable housing, and resident health. Through this process, researchers discovered that there was an increase in hospital admissions among young children who often lived in poorer sections of town and usually in rental housing. With about 60% of people in Dallas living in rental housing, something needed to be done.

Findings from John Hopkins Medicine found that nationwide, “Children who lived in inner-city areas had an overall 40 percent higher risk of asthma-related emergency room visits and 62 percent higher risk of asthma-related hospitalizations. After adjusting for race/ethnicity, the risk was lowered to 14 percent and 30 percent higher for emergency room visits and hospitalizations, respectively.”

Through the NCHH and other programs, an active and defined partnership was created with City attorneys, code officers, health care providers, and citizen activists.  These groups worked to revise and elevate the Minimum Housing Standards that regulate how housing is maintained.  Critical input from the National Center for Healthy Housing compared the Dallas code with a series of “ideal” standards.  Changes were suggested and then were adopted as revisions to the Standards.  After almost three years of work that included thirty community meetings, six City of Dallas Council briefings, and one public hearing, the Dallas City Council passed the revised ordinance to raise the Minimum Housing Standard in Dallas.

Dallas was one of the first Cities in the country to successfully pass healthy housing into law.  This accomplishment has been praised by the Environmental Protection Agency, several national health housing agencies and the American Public Health Association.  Dallas has become the model for other cities to follow. 

As an active member of this important initiative, Bob Curry with the City of Dallas’ Code Compliance Department will be a featured speaker on an EPA webinar highlighting how the NCHH and the City of Dallas have worked together to incorporate healthy housing principles into housing codes, which serves as a model for other communities around the U.S. Each of the featured speakers will share how proactive infrastructure and partnership strategies have led to improved asthma prognosis and other health outcomes for people of all ages in Dallas.

Using Housing Codes to Improve Asthma Health Outcomes

Tuesday, December 18, 2018 from 2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.

The webinar is free and open to the public.  Register here.

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