Local Healthy Housing Groups Launch Rhode Island Alliance for Healthy Homes

PROVIDENCE, RI —Local healthy housing groups announced the launch of Rhode Island Alliance for Healthy Homes (RIAHH) with the goals of raising awareness about the costly impact of unhealthy housing and providing cross-sector coordination of education, resources and services among state, city and community-based service organizations. RIAHH has undergone an intensive year-long planning process engaging more than 80 organizations and 55 college students. Green & Healthy Homes Initiative (GHHI), a national leader on healthy housing with 17 sites around the country, will lead RIAHH’s day-to-day management. The launching of RIAHH marks GHHI’s first expansion to a state-wide model. With this expansion, GHHI Providence will now be known as GHHI Rhode Island.

The Rhode Island Alliance for Healthy Homes brings the critical issue of unhealthy housing to the forefront of the discussion about improving health, safety and housing stability for Rhode Island’s families,” said RIAHH Executive Steering Committee Chairperson of the Liz Tobin-Tyler. For the first time, all of the key partners will work together to coordinate information, resources and planning. This is an exciting opportunity for Rhode Island to be a leader in developing evidence-based healthy housing policy and practice.”

The idea of RIAHH coalesced in June 2013, when limited coordination among local healthy housing efforts coupled with staff and budget limitations prompted the idea for a new organization to streamline healthy housing services and resources. The Rhode Island Department of Health’s Healthy Housing Collaborative, the Rhode Island Housing Resource Commission’s Healthy Housing Work Group and GHHI Providence’s Learning Network combined forces and gathered additional stakeholders to lead the RIAHH planning effort, including the Rhode Island Energy Efficiency Resources Management Council, Rhode Island’s Department of Human Services, Department of Health, Office of Energy Resources, Office of the Attorney General, Office of Housing and Community Development/Housing Resources Commission, and Rhode Island Housing, Inc. Dozens of other agencies and organizations representing health care providers, health care insurers, utility providers, residential building professionals, public health, higher education, housing advocacy organizations, community action agencies and community development corporations also joined in the planning process.

“The Rhode Island Alliance for Healthy Homes is a powerful example of mission and outcome-driven partnerships,” said GHHI President & CEO Ruth Ann Norton. “We are honored and excited to provide the backbone support and day to day management of the Alliance. Through this collaboration, we will significantly increase the stock of healthy, safe and energy efficient homes for families across Rhode Island and ensure far better outcomes for its children and families. Working together, we will be able to document the result of green and healthy housing in terms of better educational performance for young children, lower health care costs and more stable home environments.

The Rhode Island Attorney General’s Office has awarded RIAHH a $54,000 grant to support its efforts. The grant is made possible from settlement funds from a 2007 court order resulting from a lawsuit brought by Rhode Island Attorney General’s Office, other states and the federal government against American Electric Power Service Corporation (AEP). The lawsuit alleged AEP constructed and modified numerous power plants in the Ohio River Valley without the permits required under the Clean Air Act, causing increased smog in Rhode Island and other states. Under the court order, recently reopened and increased, AEP paid a $15 million penalty and committed $65 million to perform or finance pro-environmental projects, of which approximately $30 million was distributed to eight states to fund pollution reduction, renewable energy, green building and other environmental projects. Rhode Island’s portion of the settlement was approximately $2 million, with an additional $714,000 through a 2013 settlement.

In previous years, the Attorney General has leveraged these court-ordered monies to reduce state energy costs and harmful air pollution through the installation of wind turbines at Fishermen’s Memorial State Campground and East Matunuck State Beach, the installation of a two-acre, 300 kilowatt solar roof field at RIPTA’s Transportation Building located on Melrose Street in Providence, as well as providing for upgraded air emissions devices on state-owned heavy equipment.

“While the AEP settlement funds have allowed us to support important renewable energy programs that save taxpayer dollars, it is just as important, if not more, that we support programs that ensure Rhode Island residents live in safe and healthy homes,” said Attorney General Peter Kilmartin. “If we discover a problem in our home, such as lead paint, asbestos, or mold, many of us are fortunate to have the financial resources to abate the problem. Yet, too many Rhode Islanders don’t, and they end up living in a sick home, increasing the cost of healthcare, and possibly worse, putting their children at risk of severe, long term health and developmental issues. Rhode Island’s size makes it ideal for developing a public private partnership to identify the homes in need and harness the right resources to ensure that our neighbors live in healthy homes.”

GHHI received a $60,000 grant from the Rhode Island Foundation, the state’s community foundation, to expand its work across Rhode Island and to support its work with RIAHH. The Foundation has supported GHHI’s work in Rhode Island since its launch in 2009, committing more than $265,000 to the organization over the past five years.

“I want to thank our many community and public partners for their contributions and Rhode Island’s Congressional Delegation for making sure that Rhode Island has the resources to support their crucial work at home,” said Neil Steinberg, the Foundation’s president and CEO. “We all can take pride in serving the families who now have safe and energy efficient homes, the contractors that were put to work and the many workers who received crucial job training and steady paychecks. We look forward to seeing how much more the synergy of this new alliance can accomplish.”

 About the Rhode Island Alliance for Healthy Homes

The Rhode Island Alliance for Healthy Homes (RIAHH) envisions an organization that coordinates the professional healthy housing community to effectively align, braid and coordinate information, resources and services to improve the health, safety, and energy efficiency of all Rhode Island homes. RIAHH uses a collective impact model driven with the support and leadership of the Green & Healthy Homes Initiative (GHHI), a nationally recognized leader in healthy housing. With support from the Rhode Island Attorney General’s Office and the Rhode Island Foundation, RIAHH serves as the state’s resource to identify measurable solutions through the existing healthy housing resource infrastructure.

About Green & Healthy Homes Initiative

The Green & Healthy Homes Initiative (GHHI) is dedicated to breaking the link between unhealthy housing and unhealthy children. Formerly the Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning, GHHI replaces stand-alone housing intervention programs with an integrated, whole-house approach that produces sustainable green, healthy and safe homes. As a result, we are improving health, economic and social outcomes for families across the country. With support from U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Department of Energy (DOE), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Council on Foundations, and numerous philanthropic partners, GHHI serves as the national model for green and healthy homes interventions, and has produced 5,000 GHHI housing units nationwide. GHHI currently is at work in Atlanta, Baltimore, Buffalo, Chicago, Cleveland, Denver, Detroit, Dubuque, Flint, Lansing, Lewiston Auburn, Jackson, New Haven, Philadelphia, Rhode Island, Salt Lake and San Antonio. Learn more at www.ghhi.org or follow us @HealthyHousing.

About the Rhode Island Attorney General’s Office

The Attorney General is the top legal official in Rhode Island. As the state’s top prosecutor, the Attorney General fights to enhance the economic security of Rhode Island, protect the public safety of our communities and restore the public trust in state government by fighting corruption. As the central legal agency of the state, the Office of Attorney General is responsible for prosecution of all felony criminal cases and misdemeanor appeals, as well as prosecution of misdemeanor cases brought by state law enforcement agencies. Additionally, as chief legal officer of the state, the Attorney General represents all agencies, departments and commissions in litigation and initiates legal action where necessary to protect the interests of Rhode Island citizens. The Office of Attorney General is also charged with operating and maintaining the Bureau of Criminal Identification, which is the central repository for all criminal records in the state. For more information on the Office of Attorney General, please visit www.riag.ri.gov.

About the Rhode Island Foundation

The Rhode Island Foundation is the largest and most comprehensive funder of nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island. In 2013, the Foundation made grants of more than $31 million to organizations addressing the state’s most pressing issues and needs of diverse communities. Through leadership, fundraising and grantmaking activities, often in partnership with individuals and organizations, the Foundation is helping Rhode Island reach its true potential. For more information, visitwww.rifoundation.org.

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