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HABC Announces New Asthma Initiative at O’Donnell Heights

On Wednesday, the Housing Authority of Baltimore City’s (HABC) Acting Executive Director Michael Braverman joined Mayor Catherine E. Pugh, Council President Bernard “Jack” Young, and partners from the Green & Healthy Homes Initiative (GHHI), the Baltimore City Health Department, the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD), the HABC Board of Commissioners, and the HABC Resident Advisory Board (RAB) to announce the Healthier Homes Asthma Initiative at O'Donnell Heights. This new pilot program is designed to help families create a healthier home environment by reducing indoor allergens that contribute to asthma.

“Asthma is a prevalent condition that strikes millions of people throughout the country. Although there is no cure, the condition can be prevented,” said Mayor Pugh. "The partnership between HABC, the Health Department and GHHI supports my administration’s commitment to providing Baltimore residents with the knowledge, access, and environment that will enable healthy living.”

HABC staff will receive “Healthy Homes” training to help families identify and eliminate the environmental factors that trigger asthma attacks. They will also be trained to perform sustainable, healthy home repairs that lower ongoing repair costs and create healthy outcomes for families. In addition, GHHI will provide environmental assessment, resident education, and program evaluation.

“By implementing this groundbreaking HABC program, Mayor Catherine Pugh and the Housing Commissioner are demonstrating their commitment to improving the City’s public housing safety standards and ensuring that residents live in housing that does not negatively impact their health,” said GHHI President and CEO Ruth Ann Norton. “By addressing environmental factors such as asthma triggers and household injury risks, we improve children’s health outcomes, increase a parent’s ability to get to work and a student’s ability to attend school, and enhance school performance while lowering costs for families.”

"Our environments — from the air we breathe to the food we have access to — are a major contributor to health and well-being," said Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen. "Environmental justice is a critical social justice issue of our time, and I applaud Green & Healthy Homes Initiative, the Housing Authority of Baltimore City, and all of our partners for their initiative."

HABC provided $200K to pilot the Healthier Homes Asthma Initiative. The pilot will serve the residents of O’Donnell Heights for one year. HABC intends to expand the program to all public housing sites. GHHI has hired two O’Donnell Heights residents to serve as community health workers. The workers will be trained and certified in home visiting and asthma education.

“I’m proud HABC is a part of an innovative partnership with GHHI and the Health Department that supports Mayor Pugh’s vision. Our housing agenda is not just about creating structures, but is ultimately about creating the conditions and opportunities for families to be successful,” said Acting Executive Director Braverman. “It is our hope that HABC’s Healthier Homes Asthma Initiative will become a national model that will inspire other housing authorities across the country to replicate the program.”

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