National Center for Healthy Housing Board of Directors meets with HUD Deputy Secretary Ron Sims


On December 7, 2010, the National Center for Healthy Housing and its Board of Directors were joined at dinner by HUD Deputy Secretary, Ron Sims.  After dinner, Mr. Sims gave a short presentation to the board and took part in a casual question and answer session.

On behalf of the Board, Dr. Vernon warmly welcomed Mr. Sims, highlighting his extraordinary contributions to his community while the County Executive of King County, including his concern for the quality of housing as a public health issue.  Mr. Sims provided a synopsis of his experiences as County Executive of King County, Washington and his administration’s integration of environmental, social equity and public health policies that produced groundbreaking work on climate change, health care reform, affordable housing, mass transit, environmental protection, land use, and equity and social justice.

Sims discussed how he is taking all that he learned in King County and is working with colleagues at HUD to apply it to national issues. For example, using GIS maps in King County, his administration found that low-income areas in Seattle had no regional trails, poorer health consequences, and reduced access to healthy foods. The zip code to which a newborn went home was the most accurate predictor of his or her future health, well-being, and financial status. Building on this experience, Sims is helping HUD to develop GIS maps with common indicators that local jurisdictions will be able to use to plan reductions in local disparities and to monitor their success. Mr. Sims emphasized that HUD will be using these maps to help jurisdictions strategize around key health indicators in their grant applications and reporting to HUD. Sims also stressed the need to re-think how neighborhoods are organized and find ways to build health equity across racial and economic divides. In his words, “A zip code should be an address, not a lifetime health determinant.” He also referred to HUD as “…no longer a housing agency, but a development agency in both urban and rural areas.”

Mr. Sims also spoke to HUD’s interest in healthy housing and its convergence with energy efficiency. Sims stated “healthy housing is an outcome and a value. It’s not enough for homes to be green and better for the environment. They need to be better for occupant health and need to exist within healthy communities.” Mr. Sims also spoke of the need for healthy housing advocates to push HUD to be innovative and do more with healthy homes.

NCHH was honored to be joined by Deputy Secretary Sims and we look forward to working with him in the coming months and years.

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