NCHH Celebrates 20-Year Anniversary with Leadership Conference



Practitioners, Philanthropy, and Policymakers Meet to Improve American Housing Conditions

WASHINGTON, February 13, 2013 – The National Center for Healthy Housing (NCHH), the leading national nonprofit dedicated to creating safe and healthy housing for America’s families, will convene government, community, and industry experts to strategize about improving the quality of housing for all Americans during its 20th Anniversary Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C., this week. The conference recognizes the organization’s founding and continued pursuit of lead-safe and healthy housing.

The conference brings together more than 200 leaders from across the country in affordable housing, environmental public health, environmental justice, energy efficiency, philanthropy, business, and many other disciplines. Former Housing Secretary Henry Cisneros will keynote the event on February 13th. Cisneros recently co-edited a book, “Independent for Life,” on the critical housing needs for the nation’s aging population.

Top governmental officials will also announce a new federal healthy housing plan, “Advancing Healthy Housing – A Strategy for Action.” Assistant Administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Air and Radiation, Gina McCarthy, and the Deputy Secretary for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Maurice Jones will address the conference.

Over 50 advocates will visit with Congressional members on February 15th to discuss the importance of healthy housing issues in their home districts and to build support for a new healthy housing bill introduced by Senators Reed, Johanns, Boxer, and Franken this week. The bill will enable HUD to create more safe and healthy homes throughout the country through its existing grant programs.  

“For two decades, NCHH has been a trusted partner in helping practitioners and policymakers meet a variety of challenges to improve American housing conditions,” said Rebecca Morley, executive director of NCHH.  “Today, 30 million families live in unsafe and unhealthy housing. The time is now to accelerate our progress with the help of hundreds of leaders from around the country.”

Founded in 1993 as the National Center for Lead-Safe Housing in pursuit of cost effective solutions to the problem of childhood lead poisoning, the organization was instrumental of the implementation of key federal laws and regulations. The organization became influential in recognizing that homes with lead-based paint hazards often pose other health and safety risks and that a holistic coordinated approach was more cost effective and public health protective. The organization changed its name in 2001 to the National Center for Healthy Housing to other home hazards such as asthma triggers, radon, pesticides, and injuries.

Key Milestones Over the Last 10 Years Include:

  • In 2003, NCHH created the National Healthy Homes Training Center and Network (with funding from HUD, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)). Since the training center’s founding, more than 15,000 professionals have completed trainings.
  • In 2009, NCHH received funding from The Kresge Foundation to pursue national policy work and created the National Safe and Healthy Housing Coalition, which is composed of leading organizations from the fields of affordable housing, public health, environment, and energy efficiency.
  • In 2010, NCHH combined forces with the Alliance for Healthy Homes, its sister organization, to create one national organization dedicated to science, policy and advocacy. In 2011, NCHH launched the Grassroots Advocacy Network to support local community-based organizations in achieving policy changes to improve housing conditions.
  • Upcoming Key Initiatives by NCHH Include:
  • In 2013, NCHH will unveil a national healthy housing standard. The standard aims to eradicate deplorable housing conditions and help prepare homes for the increased frequency of extreme weather events.
  • This year, NCHH will release an update to its online report card called the State of Healthy Housing. This report ranks 29 metropolitan areas in terms of housing quality.
  • NCHH will continue to lead the Healthy Housing Challenge with its partner, Rebuilding Together. The initiative trains volunteer-home repair organizations to make low-cost but lifesaving health and safety repairs in high-risk homes.

Since the organization’s founding 20 years ago, the nation has made significant strides in the reduction of lead poisoning in children. Last year, the CDC changed its approach to defining the level at which children are considered to have excessive lead levels. Recognizing that even small amounts of lead in a child’s blood can cause long-term effects, CDC adopted a reference level of 5 micrograms per deciliter to identify children with blood lead levels that are much higher than most children’s levels. About 535,000 children nationwide have blood lead levels above this value.

“Our homes should be our sanctuaries, but too often they put families in harm’s way,” said Dr. Thomas Vernon, NCHH board chairman. “A safe and healthy home is integral to the American dream and should be part of the national agenda. It is our mission to keep Americans safe and healthy in their homes.”

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. You can also follow NCHH on Twitter @nchh or become a fan on Facebook at

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