Health and housing are not mutually exclusive, with housing being an important determinant of health and poor housing being a major public health issue. Substandard housing has been linked to numerous health issues, including mental health, asthma, lead poisoning and injuries. Our Healthy Homes Program educates tenants on health hazards in the home, connects tenants with vital resources for improving housing conditions and works with government and community organizations to bring safe housing to our residents.
If you are a tenant living in the City of Chicago and would like more information, or if you are an organization that would like training in Healthy Homes, please contact us at 773-292-4980 ext 225.
The Seven Principles of a Healthy Home:
1. Keep it dry: dampness provides a nurturing environment for dust mites, roaches, rodents, and molds (all of which can exacerbate asthma symptoms). Prevent water from entering your home through leaks in roofing systems, rain water from entering the home due to poor drainage, and check your interior plumbing for any leaking.
2. Keep it clean: clean homes reduce pest infestations and exposure to contaminants. Control the source of dust and contaminants, creating smooth and cleanable surfaces, reducing clutter, and using effective wet-cleaning methods.
3. Keep it pest-free: exposure to mice and cockroaches exacerbate asthma symptoms and inappropriate treatment for pest infestations can cause health problems. All pests look for food, water and shelter. Seal cracks and openings throughout the home; store food in pest-resistant containers. If needed, use sticky-traps and baits in closed containers, along with least toxic pesticides such as boric acid powder.
4. Keep it safe: falls are the most frequent cause of residential injuries to children, followed by injuries from objects in the home, burns and poisonings. Store poisons out of the reach of children and properly label. Secure loose rugs and keep children’s play areas free from hard or sharp surfaces. Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and keep fire extinguishers on hand. Click here to report unsafe living conditions.
5. Keep it contaminant-free: chemical exposures to lead, radon, pesticides, volatile organic compounds, and environmental tobacco smoke harm your health. Reduce lead-related hazards in pre-1978 homes by fixing deteriorated paint, and keeping floors and window areas clean using wet-cleaning approach. Test your home for radon, a naturally occurring dangerous gas that enters homes through soil, crawlspaces, and foundation crack. Install a radon removal system if levels above the EPA action-level are detected.
6. Keep it ventilated: increasing the fresh air supply in your home improves respiratory health. Ventilate bathrooms and kitchens and use whole house ventilation for supplying fresh air to reduce the concentration of contaminants in the home.
7. Keep it maintained: poorly-maintained homes are at risk for moisture and pest problems. Deteriorated lead-based paint in older housing is the primary cause of lead poisoning. Inspect, clean and repair your home routinely. Take care of minor repairs and problems before they become large repairs and problems. More information on lead and lead sources can be found here.
More information on MTO’s Healthy Homes Program: