Minn. works to coordinate effort on housing safetyby Lorna Benson, Minnesota Public Radio
Health and housing leaders unveiled a new "Healthy Homes" plan this week that will try to coordinate the state's prevention work on problems such as mold, radon and carbon monoxide.
The Minnesota Department of Health says the initiative is based on the state's successful lead remediation work, which has significantly lowered the rates of lead poisoning.
The success of the "Healthy Homes" plan will depend largely on the willingness of housing and health organizations to cooperate, said Dan Symonik, who works in the agency's Environmental Health Division.
"For example, when Housing Finance does an assessment to go do one of their mortgages, they want to be sure of the kind of house that they're going to be putting some money into," he said, "so they do a home assessment for that mortgage. A lot of that same data is the same thing we would do for our public health assessment ... there's no reason to collect it twice."
The Minneapolis-based Sustainable Resources Center has partnered with the Health Department on the initiative. Executive director Dan Newman said there are a lot of policies in place that don't support health in housing.
"We have money to do lead hazard control, but we can't do moisture management with that money," Newman said. "We have money to do low-income weatherization, but we can't do pest control. Part of it is piecemeal of funding, part of it is piecemeal of the approach we take where we solve one problem at a time."
By finding more efficient ways to spend housing dollars, Symonik said the state will be able do more remediation work with its limited housing resources.