Green and Healthy Housing
Our green and healthy housing program, which is headed by our Healthy Homes Committee, aims to increase access to affordable housing in Boston that promotes health and—to a lesser extent—environmental sustainability. The Healthy Homes Committee advocates for policy change and improved construction/renovation standards, which ensure that housing meets, and/or exceeds the following criteria:
- Practice water conservation through the use of good plumbing and rainwater reuse.
- Practice energy-efficiency and low energy consumption
- Use non-toxic, recycled and regional materials used during construction and renovation of buildings.
- Are located on sites which:
- are less exposed to high volumes of traffic,
- have an appropriate amount of open space,
- promote walking and/or other forms of exercise, and
- have easy access to public transportation.
- Are safe and free of lead, environmental tobacco smoke (secondhand smoke), pests, mold, and other asthma triggers.
- Have been tested for lead or have been de-leaded (for homes built before 1978).
- Have injury and fire prevention standards in place to prevent accidents.
Currently, we are working on two major activities toward promoting green and healthy housing: 1) developing and implementing a smoke-free housing policy in collaboration with the Boston Housing Authority (BHA) and 2) revising current housing sanitation codes.
One major provision we are advocating for in the revised sanitation codes is the inclusion of integrated pest management (IPM), a method of reducing and/or eliminating pests in households. IPM is an alternative to traditional, chemical pest removal methods, is effective in removing pests if done correctly, and poses less risk to infants and children who may accidently swallow or breathe in harsh, chemical pest repellants.
In regards to smoke-free housing, in January 2010, Mayor Thomas M. Menino publicly announced that all Boston Public Housing would be smoke free by 2014. We believe this landmark event was in response to the efforts and work of the Healthy Homes Committee and BHHSC. Additionally, the development of a smoke-free housing policy for BHA residences has been largely successful because of outreach to and engagement of BHA residents. Our work contributed to BHA’s instituting a smoke free housing policy, dating back several years to the time we advocated for smoke-free housing units in specific developments. Furthermore, we have successfully reached out to hundreds of Dorchester and Roxbury residents who are now familiar with these issues and are ready to make their own homes and new homes in their community healthier.