The Green & Healthy Homes Initiative (GHHI) held its back-to-school event at the Henderson-Hopkins K-8 School where U.S. Housing Secretary Julian Castro announced a grant of $4 million from the Department of Housing and Community Development to Baltimore City to protect children from lead-based paint and other safety hazards in 230 City homes. According to Ruth Ann Norton, GHHI President and CEO, “we want to make sure that children live in safe and healthy homes.” The theme for the gathering at Henderson-Hopkins was “Heathy Homes Makes Healthy Readers.”
“Every family deserves to live in a safe and healthy home where they can see their children thrive and excel,” said Castro. “Communities will use these grants to help eliminate home-related hazards in neighborhoods across the country. A healthy home is vital to the American Dream.”
Castro was joined by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Congressmen Cummings and Sarbanes, Johns Hopkins President Ron Daniels, and author Wes Moore. Several leaders from national and Baltimore foundations attended the event to stress the connection between healthy homes and student success.
Thirty years ago, near the same location as the school, a group of nine parents got together with lawyer Clinton Bamberger to begin work on lead-based paint issues in the City. GHHI, which grew out of that initial effort, is now working on healthier housing in 25 cities. Today, there has been a 98% reduction in child-based lead paint poisoning in Baltimore since that time.
President Daniels praised GHHI for its work and the many partners involved in the group’s success. He described how important a healthy home environment is to school success, noting that if students are missing from school for asthma or lead-based paint related issues, they cannot succeed in school. Housing interventions by GHHI have lowered hospitalizations by more than 65% and improved school attendance by 62%
GHHI also unveiled a new smartphone tool, the “My Healthy Home” app. The free mobile-ready tool teaches families how to identify hazards in the home that may make them sick. The app helps families develop a custom roadmap to eliminate risks and offers helpful DIY tips for simple fixes. For more challenging repairs, the app prompts users to contact GHHI for assistance.
After describing his brief experience as a teacher, Secretary Castro welcomed the Henderson-Hopkins teachers back-to-school and praised them for their commitment to making a difference in their students’ lives.
See WBAL report on the GHHI meeting