Boston Housing Authority Receives HUD Secretary’s Award for Healthy Homes
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Boston Housing Authority Receives HUD Secretary’s Award for Healthy Homes

BHA is awarded for its commitment to healthy housing through its BRIGHT Study

Boston – Friday July 15, 2016 – (RealEstateRama) — Boston Housing Authority has been awarded the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary’s Award for Healthy Homes. Boston Housing Authority (BHA) has been committed to Healthy Housing for over 15 years through its many policies and program initiatives including Integrated Pest Management in 2008, a Non-Smoking Policy in 2012, and a Strategic Sustainability Plan in 2014.

“We congratulate Mayor Walsh and the BHA team on winning this award,” said Jim Reed, HUD New England Regional Administrator.  “Through your collaborative work the model programs that you have put in place have created a sustainable environment where families are healthy and thriving.”

One very important part of BHA’s Healthy Homes initiative is the Boston Residential Investigation on Green and Healthy Transitions, or BRIGHT Study, whose goal was to quantify the health changes that redevelopment had produced. The study included the redevelopment of Old Colony in South Boston and Washington Beech in Roslindale, focusing on a range of occupant health and well-being matters including ambient air quality, incidence of asthma and other respiratory effects, occupants’ comfort and satisfaction, energy/water consumption, and operations/maintenance work order requests.

The Boston Housing Authority strongly believes in building and maintaining vibrant and healthy communities based on the principles of quality housing, sustainability, partnership, accessibility, and opportunity.  With this, they have used a “green” housing approach when redeveloping, meaning that the new structures are built with “green” features to exceed Energy Star standards. Some of these features include Energy Star appliances and lighting, unit-level ventilation systems, high-efficiency heating and cooling systems, and solar panels.

Through questionnaires, home visual inspections, and environmental sampling, the BRIGHT Study has looked closely at the health and well-being of the residents at the two sites. The results of the study showed that less children living in “green” homes had asthma symptoms/attacks and fewer residents had sick building syndrome symptoms. Overall, these “green” homes have had improved residents’ health outcomes.

“The results of this study and the positive impact within these two developments is proof that healthy, sustainable living can be accessible to all,” said Bill McGonagle, BHA Administrator. “Our residents are living healthier and happier lives and are educating others about the importance of sustainability and greenhouse effects.”

Not only has the transformation caused a change in residential health, but it has also impacted the physical environment. Air and water quality has improved significantly and consumption of electricity and natural gas has greatly decreased. As a result of these improvements, costs to operate these developments have also improved.

HUD works in partnership with the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA), to give this award annually that “recognizes excellence in healthy housing innovation and achievement in three categories: Public Housing/ Multifamily Supported Housing, Public Policy, and Cross Program Coordination among Health, Environment and Housing.”

“We are pleased to be a part of this recognition and award, and thank the BHA and partners for making Washington Beech a healthier place for us to live and raise our families, “said Meena Carr, resident of Washington Beech development.

Boston Residential Investigation on Green and Healthy Transitions (BRIGHT) is an ongoing collaborative study in partnership with the Committee for Boston Public Housing and the Harvard School of Public Health. The study sites are Washington Beech, Old Colony and Ruth Barkley – all public housing developments moving toward green living. Study teams administer a health survey, conduct environmental sampling, and visual inspections. One year later, the study teams return  to determine if there are  energy savings by going “green” and that resident health, comfort, and satisfaction are improved. Preliminary results are showing significant reductions particulate matter in the “green” homes compared to control homes as well as fewer reports of pests, mold, and inadequate ventilation

The BHA collaborated with Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), through a grant from the HUD Office of Healthy Housing and Lead Hazard Control, to construct and execute the BRIGHT Study. While HSPH was the principal investigator of the study, BHA also worked with the Committee for Boston Public Housing (CBPH), who collected information and assisted with the analysis, and the Massachusetts College of Art and Design (MassArt), who designed and produced the Welcome Home booklets that provided residents with information about the new “green” housing.

Each of the partners, including HSPH, CBPH, MassArt, Beacon Communities, and Trinity Management enthusiastically supported BHA’s application for this esteemed award.

About Boston Authority (BHA)

Boston Housing Authority (BHA) provides affordable housing to more than 58,000 residents in and around the City of Boston. Residents are assisted through a combination of public housing and federal and state voucher subsidy programs that provide a wide variety of housing opportunities. As the largest public housing authority in New England, the BHA houses close to 9 percent of the city’s residents.

Our mission is to provide stable, quality affordable housing for low and moderate income persons; to deliver these services with integrity and mutual accountability; and to create living environments which serve as catalysts for the transformation from dependency to economic self-sufficiency.

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