Healthy Homes Coalition Awarded Grant to Solve Wicked Problems


It is unacceptable to the Healthy Homes Coalition that the 49507 zip code in Grand Rapids continues to lead the state of Michigan with the number of lead-poisoned children.

As the reduction of lead poisoning in 49507 and across Kent County has curtailed the past few years. It has become clear to the Healthy Homes Coalition that existing strategies to protect children are failing to dramatically resolve the problem. Bold new strategies must to be enacted and higher standards must be set in place. 

With this in mind, the Healthy Homes Coalition recently applied for and secured a $5,000 Lead Poisoning Awareness Community mini-grant from the National Center for Healthy Housing to mobilize local stakeholders.  An October launch of “Lead-Free GR 2020” (working title) is being developed by the Healthy Homes Coalition, experienced strategic communications professionals, and other local advocates. The campaign will seek concrete, public commitments from key stakeholders to move a primary prevention strategy that eliminates sources of lead exposure for children in the 49507 zip code. 

The campaign will be a call to action to get homes fixed not only when children are poisoned, but before they are exposed. The campaign will work to build the public will needed to get people to be proactive because they don’t want their lack of participation to be perceived as complacent acceptance of lead-poisoned children. This will be accomplished through one-on-one meetings, pledges, a call to action, and one or more events.

The campaign will be coordinated with the nationally-released “10 Policies to Prevent and Respond to Childhood Lead Exposure” report. Grand Rapids is one of 15 communities nationwide selected to participate in the national campaign thorough local action. Applications were reviewed by a selection committee with representatives from the National Center for Healthy Housing, the Trust for America’s Health, the Pew Charitable Trusts, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

“Yesterday’s solutions are no longer enough to solve today’s problems,” said Healthy Homes Coalition Executive Director Paul Haan. “It is an environmental justice crises that the 49507 zip code in Grand Rapids has more lead poisoned children than any other zip code in all of Michigan. We can’t accept that it’s okay for these children to be lead poisoned. We need to do better. We need bold, new strategies and higher standards to protect all kids.”

Groups interested in taking bold new steps to drive down the number of lead poisoned children in 49507 should immediately contact the Healthy Homes Coalition to coordinate efforts and help inform the campaign.