Healthy :: Healthy Home Celebrates Anniversary, EPA Grant

The Healthy Home ? a model residence created to help property owners and residents improve the environmental health of their homes ? is celebrating its first year in operation.

The project has also received a $100,000 grant from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that will ensure the home continues to serve as a community resource for years to come.

A year ago the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) partnered with the SouthWest Area Neighborhood Association (SWAN) and the Rochester Fatherhood Resource Initiative to open the Healthy Home in a downtown Rochester neighborhood. The project was the culmination of years of grassroots outreach, advocacy, and research by a large coalition of community partners. The creation of the Healthy Home coincided with the implementation of a new city law that requires lead inspections for rental properties. The home provides renters, landlords, homeowners, and contractors with education, training, and hands-on demonstrations in effective, low-cost lead hazard control measures and other environmental health threats.

Over the past year, more than 700 people have visited the Healthy Home and the project has conducted 7 free lead safe work workshops, including 2 in Spanish. The home has also become an informal ?hub? for community health organizations such as the Regional Community Asthma Network, the Children?s Environmental Health Center, and the Injury Free Coalition for Kids. This summer the Healthy Home is supporting new community initiatives, including a nutrition and obesity prevention partnership with Foodlink, and the Work Experiences Program that provides job placements for people receiving welfare benefits.

The Healthy Home was initiated by a $15,000 Pilot Project grant from the University of Rochester?s Environmental Health Sciences Center and hundreds of hours of volunteer and donated staff time from the project?s core partners. Earlier this month the Healthy Home project received a $100,000 Environmental Justice Collaborative Problem-Solving grant from the EPA. This grant ? coupled with recent grants from the Rochester Area Community Foundation, the Department of Environmental Conservation, and the New York State Department of Health ? will enable the Healthy Home to continue to play an important role in improving environmental health in the community.

The new funds will pay rent at the home for two years and support a part-time project coordinator. The grant also supports the project?s efforts to increase involvement by other health, environment, and community groups through the Healthy Home?s Advisory Council, which currently consists of over twenty local groups. A representative of the EPA will attend the anniversary celebration to present the grant to SWAN.

?The HealthyHome collaborative partners are very proud to be one of the 10 nationwide recipients of this EPA Award,? said Patricia Jackson, president of SWAN, a thirty year old community-based organization. ?We thank them for recognizing the educational value and importance the Healthy Home provides to the residents in our community.?

The EPA grant will also complete the Healthy Home?s financial transition from a University-supported effort to a community-run project, with SWAN taking over the day-to-day operation of the home.

?This project has been a shining example of what can be accomplished by a community-university partnership,? said Katrina Korfmacher, Ph.D., the community outreach coordinator for the Environmental Health Sciences Center. ?The community has essentially leveraged an initial $15,000 investment by the University into $150,000 in new funds for community groups to address a critical environmental health education need.?

The Healthy Home?s community partners will celebrate the project?s one-year anniversary on Thursday, June 21 at 700 West Main St in Rochester. The event will be held from 4:00 to 6:00 PM and is open to the public.

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