The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), commonly known as the economic stimulus package, included a provision for $875,000 over three years to fund the Healthy Homes Demonstration Project of Esperanza Community Housing Corporation.

The Healthy Homes Team is a cadre of 12 Community Health Promoters who have been working in our neighborhood for over 10 years to improve the environmental health of the community and keeping families and children safe from dangers  of lead poisoning, vermin infestation, mold, and other home-based health hazards.

Approximately 85% of the housing in our neighborhood was built before 1978, most containing lead-based paint, which is a toxin that severly affects  the development of testtubes1children under the age of five.  The Healthy Homes Team works in conjuction with  St. John’s Well Child and Family Center Clinics by receiving referrals of children who have elevated lead blood levels.  The Healthy Homes Team visits the child’s home, tests for lead, and educates the family on how to protect their children.

In addition, the Healthy Homes Team partners with tenant organizers of  SAJE, a partner of Esperanza, who work with local families to protect them from displacement and the ravages of slum housing conditions.  Families learn how to improve the habitability of their environment, and protect their children from constant illness.  Over the past 10 years, the Healthy Homes Team have reached thousands of people in their homes and improved the quality  of their health and their housing conditions.

In 2008, Esperanza applied to HUD for a grant to fund a Healthy Homes Demonstration Project.  While our proposal scored extremely well and was deemed fundable by a wide margin, it was not funded due to severe budget cuts.  The services that the Healthy Homes Team provides are essential for our community, but the fiscal realities would not allow us to support their work indefinitely without a funding stream.  Layoffs are imminent, foreclosure and housing prices continue to rise in our neighborhood, more and more people are crowding into smaller units in undesirable conditions, putting their health at risk.  The community needs the Healthy Homes Team, but without the funding from HUD, this highly skilled group of colleagues would have had to disband after 10 years of working together to improve the health of our community.

With the stimulus bill, The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, qualifying applications to HUD’s Lead Outreach and Healthy Homes Programs from 2008 were funded, including Esperanza Community Housing Corporation’s Healthy Homes grant.  Seven people from low-income backgrounds who are experts in their field will be employed over three years,  working to improve the environmental health of their neighborhood and the families who live there.  Our program creates jobs, healthier families, and stronger communities.

On March 5, 2009 at a HUD Western Grantee Meeting, Esperanza received a Special Recognition Award from Jon L. Gant, Director of the Office of Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control.  The award reads “In grateful recognition of your dedication and significant contribution in promoting Healthy Homes and advancing the Presidential Goal of Eliminating Childhood Lead Poisoning.  Your efforts have improved the lives of many children.”

Esperanza thanks everyone who played a role in making sure that our essential work continues.