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Project History

Rochester's Healthy Home (2006-2009)

A 2002 Center for Government Relations report showing a lead poisoning rate of 35% in one Rochester neighborhood ignited a spark in our community. In response, the Southwest Area Neighborhood Association (SWAN), a non-profit organization serving this neighborhood, began getting more involved with the Coalition to Prevent Lead Poisoning (CPLP) and learning more about the impact of lead in our community. It became clear that a local direct action project was needed to prevent childhood lead poisoning.

At the same time, the Rochester Fatherhood Resource Initiative saw the opportunity to contribute to workforce development. RFRI had recently initiated a program called Building Economic Empowerment, Achieving and Maintaining Stability (BEEAMS) to train unemployed men for gainful employment in contracting. The University of Rochester Environmental Health Sciences Center (UR) had also been involved in several direct action projects to reduce hazards by providing environmental health information, including partnering with another local organization in the Get the Lead Out (GLO) project, which originated in an adjoining neighborhood.

SWAN and RFRI saw GLO's temporary Lead Lab, with its hands-on, practical and interactive displays as an extremely effective way to reach the community. Looking beyond lead, UR noted that national groups have found it efficient and effective to address multiple home based hazards in a healthy homes framework, tackling a number of environmental health hazards at the same time using best practices for the home. In 2006, the three organizations celebrated the grand opening of Rochester's Healthy Home, a hands-on demonstration house much like the GLO Lead lab, but one that would help people find and deal with several environmental health hazards in their homes.

Visitors of all kinds came through the Healthy Home: doctors, nurses, community residents, landlords, and contractors to name a few. The messages of the Healthy Home tour focused on ACTION, providing visitors with information and resources for low-cost solutions to environmental hazards, and connecting them with financial and other resources for more expensive changes. After completing a tour visitors were asked to fill out a brief evaluation survey in which they were asked to think about hazards they might have in their own homes, and then were asked to write down one thing they would do to improve health in their own homes - follow-up interviews demonstrated that about 70% of visitors actually made changes in their own homes and shared this information with others.

Although the Healthy Home is now closed, the original Advisory Council (now known as the Rochester Healthy Homes Partnership) is working to ensure that the information remains available for Rochester residents. For more information on environmental home health hazards, take a virtual healthy home tour. Here you will learn common home health hazards and simple ways to deal with them.

Prepared by Environmental Health Sciences CEC staff with support from NIEHS grant #ES001247.