49507! Project Creates Opportunity for Healthy Homes


Last summer, the Fair Housing Center of West Michigan received a $1.42 million settlement from Wells Fargo Bank after claiming the bank neglected foreclosed properties in predominately black neighborhoods in the 49507 zip code. By partnering with the Healthy Homes Coalition, some of that settlement is being used to make neighborhood housing healthier.

“We’re proud to partner with the Center to reinvest in the SECA and Garfield Park neighborhoods. We are making sure that the majority of these dollars are spent specifically on repairs to houses, and we are leveraging this reinvestment to achieve health and educational outcomes for the children who live there,” said Healthy Homes Executive Director Paul Haan.

The Healthy Homes project uses settlement dollars to make specific repairs to homes where children live that will lead to improved health and safety.  In the first three months of the project, the Healthy Homes Coalition identified five households with resident children with asthma.  Following a thorough environmental assessment, repairs were made to the homes to eliminate the environmental triggers that cause children to have asthma attacks--repairs like removing old carpeting that held a decade of allergens and replacing it with easily cleaned flooring (see picture above). 

Seven other households received assistance with non-asthma issues including cleaning up lead hazards, installing smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms, preventing accidental injury, and more.

For the Healthy Homes Coalition, this opportunity is about more than just fixing homes.  It is also an opportunity to demonstrate the impact that improving children’s housing conditions can have on health and success in school.  The Healthy Homes Coalition will be tracking health outcomes for children and attendance patterns for those who receive asthma interventions in order to prove the value of safe, quality housing for children.

“This targeted effort is proving to be quite a blessing,” said Haan.  “This project gives us the sorely needed resources to fix homes for children, many of whom live in poverty.  Typically, these families or their landlords need to find the resources to make repairs.  With this project, we can move beyond the obstacle of poverty and get the job done, allowing us to immediately measure the positive impact.”