NYS Health Foundation Grant Creating Tool to Assess Health Needs in Multifamily Housing

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

NYS Health Foundation Grant Creating Tool to Assess Health Needs in Multifamily Housing

Enterprise Community Partners, Inc. (Enterprise) announced it received a $150,000 grant from the New York State Health Foundation (NYSHealth) to support the creation of a tool to assess the health and sustainability needs of existing multifamily buildings.

The Healthy Green Physical Needs Assessment (HGPNA) tool will help affordable housing owners and public agencies to identify and better understand the range of improvements they need to take to improve resident health and wellbeing.  As the first step to understanding the potential scope of physical improvements in a building rehabilitation, the HGPNA represents a key opportunity to integrate health components with building upgrades.

Enterprise, along with its key project partner, the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), has convened a 30-member advisory panel to guide the pilot project, including; the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development; affordable housing developers, owners, and managers; the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene; and experts from the healthcare sector both in New York and nationally.

“The benefits of making existing affordable housing healthier and sustainable are numerous: it helps reduce high asthma rates, generates energy savings, lowers building maintenance costs, reduces the number of emergency visits, and keeps rents affordable,” said Judi Kende, Vice President and New York Market Leader, Enterprise Community Partners, Inc. “Thanks to the New York State Health Foundation’s grant, we will develop an effective tool to make it easier for developers to make affordable housing healthier, energy efficient, and more cost effective for low-income New Yorkers.”

“As New York builds and upgrades affordable housing, the health of residents must be a priority,” said David Sandman, President and CEO of the New York State Health Foundation. “A healthy community requires quality housing, safe streets, healthy food options, and opportunities to be physically active."

“HPD is committed to improving the lives of all New Yorkers by ensuring that each home in New York City is a safe haven for families and individuals. We are always looking for new ways to improve not just the physical health of our buildings, but of the residents who reside within them. This grant promises to provide an important new tool to help integrate health measures into building improvements in HPD’s programs. I want to thank Enterprise and LISC for shepherding this funding and investing in making New York City a more sustainable city,” said HPD Commissioner Vicki Been.

“We are excited to continue to work with Enterprise on making NYC’s housing healthier through the Green Physical Needs process. Integrating cost-effective healthy building practices like safer and more effective integrated pest management, improved ventilation and moisture prevention into affordable housing upgrades will yield significant benefits to the health and wellbeing of NYC residents,” said Deborah Nagin, MPH, Director, Healthy Homes Program, Bureau of Environmental Disease and Injury Prevention, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Through its commitment to preserve affordable homes and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050, New York City is in process of upgrading 120,000 aging affordable housing apartments serving low-income families. These buildings typically face challenges that can affect resident health such as:

  • Poor ventilation and air sealing, which can lead to poor indoor air quality from allergens trapped indoors, toxic cigarette smoke migrating between apartments, or trapped noxious combustion fumes;
  • Inadequate vermin control from holes and gaps in walls and around piping, which can trigger or exacerbate asthmas symptoms; and
  • Leaks and airborne moisture, which can cause mold and mildew growth.

Upgrading these apartments presents a unique opportunity to create healthier homes for hundreds of thousands of low-income New Yorkers, with studies showing that modest improvements in housing design, materials, and construction greatly reduces asthma triggers and symptoms. However, there is no standard protocol currently in place to help building owners assess the scope of rehabilitation work needed to create healthy, sustainable housing. Enterprise aims to meet this protocol gap, make it easier for building owners to make their developments healthier, and complement the City’s 80 by 50 goal with the creation of the HGPNA tool.

The tool will serve as a basis for public and, eventually, private financing support for the implementation of health improvement measures to facilitate the expansion of green and healthy housing across HPD’s rehabilitation programs. The pilot is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2017.

About Enterprise Community Partners, Inc.

Enterprise works with partners nationwide to build opportunity. We create and advocate for affordable homes in thriving communities linked to jobs, good schools, health care and transportation. We lend funds, finance development and manage and build affordable housing, while shaping new strategies, solutions and policy. Over more than 30 years, Enterprise has created nearly 340,000 homes, invested $18.6 billion and touched millions of lives. Join us at www.EnterpriseCommunity.com or www.EnterpriseCommunity.org.

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