Neighborhood House, Inc.
Healthy Homes & Community for High Point Families
Public Health Seattle and King County
The primary aim of this project is to address multiple threats to health originating in the built, chemical, biological and social environments of Seattle's High Point public housing community. Because High Point is a community of low-income people of color, and these threats are not as prevalent in more affluent communities, they are environmental injustices. High Point is currently beginning a $35 million federally-funded HOPE VI redevelopment. Redevelopment will result in substantial improvements in the built environment. All the old, deteriorated units are being replaced with new ones, which are being designed as healthy homes to promote the health of their occupants, including some units with enhanced features to address the needs of people with asthma and other allergic conditions. The community's physical layout is being revamped to provide opportunities for physical activity, social interaction, access to natural spaces, and enhancement of physical safety. Reconstruction emphasizes environmental sustainability. Often, resources are lacking to implement costly interventions in the built environment or redevelopment projects neglect other components of the environment. This project provides a unique opportunity to integrate strategies at the community level that address all dimensions of the environment by leveraging resources available through this RFA with HOPE VI funds. The project will test the hypothesis that an approach to environmental justice that integrates strategies across multiple environmental dimensions at the community level will result in positive changes in community health (and specifically the health of people with asthma); community cohesion, competence and capacity; and environmental sustainability. Community residents, community-based organizations, public health practitioners, environmental scientists, medical care providers and housing professionals have been collaborating to identify priority issues and advise on redevelopment activities. The work is further developing this collaborative process through establishing a more formal organizational structure which defines the roles of each partner, equalizes power among partners, establishes appropriate decision-making and advisory groups, and specifies communication channels. The project:
- conducts community surveys, focus groups and key informant interviews to further characterize environmental issues and community-based assets,
- develops additional strategies to address issues,
- establishes intergenerational teams of community members that reach out across linguistic and cultural barriers to engage the entire community by organizing assessment, education, community events and projects to improve all dimensions of environmental quality,
- develops "mutual housing agreements" through which the members of the community agree to engage in actions to benefit health and the environment in return for specific benefits provided by the community,
- includes environmental assessment and education in the context of routine medical care received by community residents,
- conducts home visits to assess indoor environmental quality and support residents with education and resources to improve it.
Throughout these activities, the project supports the capacity of residents to assess, understand and address environmental issues affecting High Point in order to become empowered to act on them.
Denise Tung Sharify
Puget Sound Neighborhood Health Centers