The Issues

The Healthy Homes Coalition takes a holistic, multi-issue approach to keeping children's housing safe. We work on asthma triggers like mold, moisture, and pests, indoor air quality issues like radon, carbon monoxide, and particulates, as well as lead poisoning and accidental injury.



Asthma is the most common chronic health problem for children, and it is often triggered by conditions in the home. Asthma is a life-long disease that can only be managed, not cured. Symptoms and attacks can disappear for a period of time, but asthma does not.  It can flare up at any time. Common asthma triggers include dust, dander, cockroaches, mold, and air pollution.



Lead poisoning in children causes life-long brain damage, but is 100% preventable. Ninety percent of children lead poisoned in Kent County get the lead from dust in the home or soil in the yard as a result of lead-based paint and leaded gasoline.  Infants and toddlers have the highest risk of being lead poisoned, especially as they begin to move around the home on their own. There are no reliable symptoms for lead poisoning, so all at-risk children should get a blood test.


Mold & Moisture

Mold causes health problems and is a common trigger for allergies and asthma attacks. Mold can grows anywhere in the home with adequate moisture and food--but is easily managed by controlling moisture. Symptoms for people exposed to mold include sneezing, runny or stuffy nose, cough, postnasal drip, itchy nose, eyes or throat, and watery eyes.


Indoor Air Quality

The air we breathe directly effects our health.  Improving the air quality in the home helps children grow up healthy.

Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. Only smoking causes more lung cancer. There are no early symptoms of radon exposure and no easy way to test individuals for exposure. The best prevention is to test the home.

Carbon monoxide is an odorless and tasteless gas that is the result of burning of fuel. It is the leading cause of poisoning deaths in the United States. The solution is to keep fuel burning appliances maintained and a working carbon monoxide detector in the home.

A mixture of solid and liquid micro particles that usually consist of inorganic and organic chemicals, carbon, sulfates, nitrates, metals, acids, and semi-volatile compounds. These particles can come from a number of sources in the home including air fresheners, cleaning products, construction materials, plastics, beauty supplies and cosmetics, hobby supplies and more.



Pests can be more than just annoying; they can also be health hazards. Cockroaches, mice, and rats, in addition to the chemicals we use to control them, can contaminate the air in our homes and trigger asthma and allergy attacks.


Accidental Injury

All combined burns and scalds, falls, and poisonings are responsible for 86% of home injury deaths.  Drowning only comprise 3% of home deaths, and fire arms 1%.  All injuries are preventable.

Trips and falls are the leading cause of unintentional home injury. Fires are the third leading cause of accidental home injury. But fire is not the only way children get burned. Bathing and kitchen related accidents are the most common causes of scalds and result in approximately 3,800 injuries each year.


Did You Know...

There is a direct link between housing conditions and children's health.


A Guide to a Healthy Home(2.5 MB)

A guide from the Michigan Department of Community Health.

Lifting Parent Voices, The COFI Way

Every second Monday of the month at 5pm, the conference room at the Healthy Homes Coalition fills up with parents. They file in, greet each other warmly and find their usual seats.

Over a quick dinner, weekly stories are swapped and pictures are shared as parents catch up. Parents for Healthy Homes meetings are part support group, part advocacy work, part leadership training class, and all parent connection.

The leadership training component is a result of our relationship with Community Organizing and Family Issues (COFI), a nonprofit organization based out of Chicago which connects parents to one another, helping turn their voices in actionable change.  COFI was created in 1995, with former community organizer Barack Obama as a founding member.


Why Parent Voices Matter More

Two stories featuring parents who are fighting to end childhood lead poisoned were told in local news this past week.

These two stories represent the voices of parents whose children are directly affected by the threat of lead poisoning in the community. They are just two of thousands more in the city.

Asthma: The Overlooked Housing Hazard

While efforts to fix lead paint hazards in Grand Rapids are currently in process and in the news, it’s important to remember that asthma is another major health concern for children in the city.

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