WASHINGTON – There must be a coordinated national effort to produce healthier housing. That was the central message from U.S. Housing and Urban Development Deputy Secretary Ron Sims and Acting Surgeon General Steven K. Galson as they issued a national ‘call to action’ to confront the prevalence of home-related preventable diseases such as lead poisoning and asthma.
During a news conference at the National Building Museum, Sims and Galson unveiled HUD’s Healthy Homes Strategic Plan and the Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Promote Healthy Homes as a coordinated effort with other public and private partners to stimulate a national dialogue about creating healthier homes.
"Our homes ought to be a place where we can raise our children without fear of making them sick," said Sims. "As a nation, we must think smarter about how we design, build, renovate and maintain our homes in a way that protects the health and safety of those who ultimately live in them."
Galson, a Rear Admiral in the U.S. Public Health Service, said "The home is the centerpiece of American life. We can prevent many diseases and injuries that result from health hazards in the home by following the simple steps outlined in this Call to Action."
HUD’s strategic plan stresses comprehensive healthy homes principles including the need to keep homes dry, clean, well-ventilated, pest- and contaminant-free, safe, and well-maintained. HUD’s strategy envisions a future where homes are both affordable and supports the health and safety of occupants. The Department’s Healthy Homes mission seeks to reduce health and safety hazards in a comprehensive and cost-effective manner, with a particular focus on protecting the health of children and other sensitive populations in low-income households. HUD’s Strategic Plan focuses on four key goals:
- Building a National Framework: Foster partnerships for implementing a healthy homes agenda.
- Creating Healthy Housing through Key Research: Support strategic, focused research on links between housing and health and cost-effective methods to address hazards.
- Mainstreaming the Healthy Homes Approach: Promote the incorporation of healthy homes principles into ongoing practices and programs.
- Enabling Communities to Create and Sustain Healthy Homes: Build sustainable local healthy homes programs.
The Call to Action outlines the next steps of a society-wide approach to healthy homes that will result in the greatest possible public health impact and reduction of disparities in the availability of healthy, safe, affordable, accessible, and environmentally friendly homes. The Call to Action also offers a consumer-friendly punch list of things every family can do to make their home healthier and safer including:
- Check gas appliances, fireplaces, chimneys, and furnaces yearly and change furnace and air conditioning filters regularly.
- Keep children safe from drowning, lead poisoning, suffocation and strangulation, and other hazards.
- Improve air quality in their homes by installing radon and carbon monoxide detectors, eliminating smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke, and controlling allergens that contribute to asthma and mold growth.
- Improve water quality by learning to protect and maintain private water wells.
The announcement of The Healthy Homes Strategic Plan and Call to Action are part of the national Healthy Homes Initiative led by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with support from such organizations as the National Center for Healthy Housing, the Alliance for Healthy Homes, and the Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning.