NCHH Applauds Federal Healthy Homes Strategy


New Plan Focuses Attention on the Public Health and Economic Impacts of Housing and Promotes the Goal of Healthy and Safe Housing for All Citizens

Columbia, MD (February 4, 2013) – Today, the National Center for Healthy Housing (NCHH) applauded the introduction of Advancing Healthy Housing – A Strategy for Action, the federal government’s response to the burgeoning health care and economic burdens caused by preventable health and safety hazards in the home.

The Strategy, developed by the interagency Healthy Homes Work Group (HHWG),  outlines the federal goals and priorities for promoting healthy housing over the next three to five years.

“The agencies have put forth a strong plan that will improve the quality of housing backed by the federal government and engage market forces,” said Rebecca Morley, executive director of the National Center for Healthy Housing (NCHH).

As part of the announcement, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced that it will require radon testing and mitigation for Federal Housing Administration (FHA)-insured multifamily mortgage applications for new construction and significant rehabilitation, and certain FHA-insured refinancing programs. HUD is urging similar action for millions of public housing units. “Radon kills more people than drunk driving each year and is the top cause of lung cancer among non-smokers,” said Morley. “Healthy housing deserves to be a national priority.”

Much is known about how to prevent disease and injuries in the home—the Strategy will help to move that knowledge into practice. The Strategy references NCHH’s research work, which identified scientifically supported housing upgrades that are ready for widespread implementation, including: radon mitigation, asthma interventions, integrated pest management and lead hazard control. The Strategy also referenced NCHH’s National Healthy Homes Training Center and Network, which has educated over 15,000 people about healthy housing issues.

For nearly a decade, the number of homes in substandard condition has hovered around 6 million. Hazards in these homes can cause allergies, asthma, injuries, cancer, and lead poisoning, which add billions to health care costs and hamper children’s success in school.  

“It is clear that unhealthy and unsafe housing has an impact on the health of millions of people in the United States, which is why we must do everything we can to ensure that individuals and families have a healthy place to call home,” said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. “Today’s announcement will help the federal government unify action to controlling and preventing major housing-related exposures and hazards.”

Dr. Mary Jean Brown, Chief of CDC’s Healthy Homes and Lead Poisoning Prevention Branch added, “Healthy homes lead to healthier lives. People can take simple steps to protect themselves from health hazards in the home.”

By creating a united and cohesive federal strategy, the agencies bring their individual strengths, resources, and capacity to making housing healthier housing. Yet, the Strategy acknowledges that the federal government is not the sole solution to the problem of unhealthy housing. Community-based organizations, philanthropy, property owners, lenders, and insurers all have roles to play.

“NCHH stands ready to leverage and support the Strategy in every way possible to advance our core mission,” said Morley.
Key related initiatives by NCHH include:

  • The development of a national healthy housing standard. The standard, slated for release in the spring of 2013 aims to eradicate deplorable housing conditions and help prepare homes for the increased frequency of extreme weather events.
  • Funding and coordinating a national Grassroots Advocacy Network for Healthy Housing, poised to challenge special interests that prevent housing improvements.
  • Operating the Health and Housing Funders Forum, a philanthropic collaborative committed to safer and healthier housing.
  • Leading the Healthy Housing Challenge with partner Rebuilding Together. Together they are training volunteer-home repair organizations to make lost-cost repairs to make high risk homes healthier and safer.

The complete Strategy can be found at:

About the National Center for Healthy Housing:
The National Center for Healthy Housing is the preeminent national nonprofit dedicated to creating safe and healthy housing for America’s families. It has trained over 35,000 individuals in lead-safe and healthy housing practices since 2005, and its research provides the scientific basis for major federal policies and programs. NCHH develops scientifically valid and practical strategies to make homes safe from hazards, to alert low- income families about housing-related health risks, and to help them protect their children. Learn more at You can also follow NCHH on Twitter @nchh or become a fan on Facebook at

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