Healthy Homes Greensboro Initiative

Healthy Homes Matter

Join us! Greensboro community partners recognize that housing matters for health and that it will take systematic collaboration to reduce disparities and to make housing healthy. Since 2005 the Healthy Homes Greensboro collaborative has been dramatically reducing the number of substandard housing units by organizing stakeholders, getting the message out, expanding resources, and changing legal systems.

The Healthy Homes Greensboro Initiative, led by GHC and the Guilford County Public Health department, is a collaboration of non-profits, businesses, and government organizations committed to reducing housing related illnesses and injuries.

  • Inspection policies:  The City of Greensboro passed an ordinance in 2003 that amended municipal ordinance Chapter to require inspection and certification of all rental units—called RUCO.  Greensboro Housing Coalition was instrumental in the passage of RUCO, in monitoring its impact on housing conditions, and in advocating for its continuation.   RUCO reduced complaints of substandard housing by over 75% in 7 years, turning around some properties that had long been out of compliance and prompting preventive maintenance in many others—as the number of units certified increased, the number of substandard units and new complaints decreased.  Greensboro’s policy has been a model for many cities and counties around the nation as advocates for healthy housing research effective ways to bring housing into safe condition.   State legislation passed in 2011 prohibits local governments from inspecting properties without probable cause, except in certain circumstances.  A stakeholder group appointed by Greensboro City Council is looking at the most effective policies and programs to assure that housing is maintained to at least minimum safety standards.  State landlord-tenant law already requires that all housing be “habitable” in order to be rented.  The new state legislation allows inspections of properties whose owners have a history of code violations in the past 12 months, so the City of Greensboro could adopt a policy to track this data and inspect all the properties with the same ownership as houses or apartments with violations.
  • Medical-Legal Partnership:  Legal Aid and clinics are cooperating in identifying patient situations where attorneys can assist medical professionals in improving health outcomes.  When patients’ health appears to be related to housing conditions, GHC can do housing assessments and help patients to get the repairs necessary to remove health risks, in collaboration with their attorneys and doctors.
  • Outreach to immigrants and refugees:  The Center for New North Carolinians, Church World Service, and FaithAction International House work with immigrants and refugees; when they encounter unsafe housing conditions, GHC does housing assessments to identify the health risks and assists residents to communicate with their landlords to get the necessary repairs.
  • Neighborhood engagement:  GHC has started outreach in Cottage Grove neighborhood to help residents connect with the City of Greensboro’s Lead Safe Housing and BetterBuildings programs.  We will soon be reaching out in other neighborhoods as part of BetterBuildings community engagement, in collaboration with NC A&T’s Center for Energy Research & Technology.
  • Annual bus tour and video:  Each year, GHC and collaborative partners do a healthy homes bus tour and McWhorter Concepts makes a video documentary to show the progress made by many community organizations.  Watch the video: http://ghc-dev.illkd.com/events/annual-bus-tour/

Helpful information resources:

  • From the Wisconsin Healthy Homes Partnership. For educators and parents. Links with information about indoor air quality, asthma and allergies, child safety, and other topics.  Free, downloadable publications on a variety of healthy homes issues. Click here.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Environmental Health. Wide range of topics, scholarly and layman’s language, publications. Site has an A to Z directory. Click here.
  • The EPA’s Children’s Health Protection site.  Comprehensive information about child development and environmental impacts. Covers issues nationally and internationally. Click here.
  • Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) site on healthy homes. Covers hazards and emphasizes policies and issues related to public housing. Click here
  • Healthy Homes Partnership from the Cooperative Extension Service in Alabama. Simple information about healthy homes, health hazards, healthy homes work in other states. Click here.