Open Communities Alliance is working with a team of Connecticut partners and an advisory committee of national experts to initiate a pilot project designed to ensure that low-income families with children experiencing environmentally-triggered health challenges have housing choices in neighborhoods more likely to produce positive health outcomes.
Much research has demonstrated that moves to healthier environments can make profound differences to health outcomes for low-income children. Additional National Institutes of Health-supported studies are also ongoing, undertaken by researchers at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, that put a particular emphasis on outcomes for children who suffer from Asthma. This Connecticut pilot project is not strictly intended to show that families’ health outcomes will improve but rather to demonstrate an effective program design to inform eligible families about housing choices and help those who are interested in moving do so.
The project will employ three strategies to identify households who currently receive government housing vouchers and have a member under the age of 18 who is experiencing health issues related to environmental conditions, with the likely focus being Asthma. These strategies include connecting to families through doctors in health clinics assisting low-income populations, through school-based programs in high poverty school settings, and through community health workers.
Selected families will be connected to a set of resources designed to ensure they are fully informed about their housing options and can make moves to healthier neighborhoods at no cost. Intensive “mobility counseling” will provide families with full information about the importance of environmental conditions on children’s health, education, and more, as well as identify potential rental units, and liaise with new communities. Program participants will also be provided with security deposit assistance and funds to cover moving expenses.
Combined, the research connecting moves to improved health outcomes elsewhere in the country and this Connecticut pilot demonstrating effective and replicable program design will put forth a roadmap for implementing a cost-effective health-focused housing intervention that produces positive health outcomes for children while at the same time addressing segregation and increasing access to a web of opportunity structures.
We are fortunate to have the following national experts as members of the advisory committee for this project: