National Healthy Housing Standard

In partnership with the American Public Health Association and with thoughtful input from two expert committees, NCHH developed the National Healthy Housing Standard to inform and deliver housing policy that reflects the latest understanding of the connections between housing conditions and health. The National Committee on Housing and Health provided visionary leadership to position the Standard for relevance and widespread adoption. The Technical Review Work Group reviewed drafts, recommended improvements, and discussed significant issues during the development of the draft Standard.

Our focus in the National Healthy Housing Standard is the over 100 million existing homes in our country that offer the most significant opportunity to protect public health and reduce health disparities. Although new homes are typically safer and healthier, having been built to modern building standards, technologies, and regulations—and to ever-changing consumer expectations—the new construction market remains a fraction of the overall housing stock in the country. In contrast, regulations and industry practices affecting existing owner-occupied and rental housing, the focus of this document, have not kept pace with our knowledge about housing-related disease and prevention of disease and injury through routine maintenance.

The Standard is a living tool for property owners, elected officials, code agency staff, and all who are concerned about housing as a platform for health. Individually and together, the Standard constitutes minimum performance standards for a safe and healthy home. It provides health-based measures to fill gaps where no property maintenance policy exists and also serves as a complement to the International Property Maintenance Code and other housing policies already in use by local and state governments and federal agencies. The Standard bridges the health and building code communities by putting modern public health information into housing code parlance. The Standard is written in code language to ease its adoption, although we anticipate that localities will tailor it to local conditions.  

The Standard consists of seven chapters with requirements and stretch provisions, a section of definitions, and a section with annotations for each provision that explain the public health rationale and provide references for more information. Stretch provisions go above the minimum maintenance code and should be integrated during property renovation, if not sooner. We encourage the adoption of the stretch provisions wherever feasible.

We have provided a Microsoft Word version of the Standard to facilitate copy-pasting the Standard into ordinances, regulations, property maintenance checklists, construction specifications, and the like. We encourage extensive use of this material. Please credit the Standard in the following manner:

National Center for Healthy Housing & American Public Health Association. (2014, May 16). National healthy housing standard. Columbia, MD: National Center for Healthy Housing. Available at www.nchh.org/standard.aspx.

Also please let us know how you are using the document and if we can be helpful. Knowledge of your experiences will help us to help others and build the momentum.

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