Green & Healthy Homes Initiative, Inc.

Healthy Homes for Equitable Opportunities: Ending Lead’s Toxic Legacy Highly Ranked

Public health

Deploys MacArthur’s investment to transform Baltimore by removing residential lead hazards and eliminating childhood lead poisoning; ensuring that our city’s children achieve their full potential.

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To learn more about – or provide significant funding to – this project, please contact Lever for Change.

Project Summary

The children of Baltimore, a city with among the highest poverty and lowest graduation and employment rates in the country, are being robbed of their futures by living in old, deteriorating homes with lead-based paint, poor indoor air quality, injury risks and energy inefficiency – homes that negatively impact health and push financial stability out of reach of families.. We seek to bolster Baltimore’s future by deploying a deep investment to transform Baltimore’s housing, eliminate lead poisoning in the city in five years, and improve academic and health outcomes for children. This transformative housing intervention model will be scaled nationally to deploy the $12.5 billion in cross-sector investments generated through GHHI’s National Campaign to End Lead Poisoning. The end of lead’s toxic legacy is in sight. MacArthur’s investment will accelerate our progress toward this achievable goal and ensure better opportunities for children and communities as a national model.

Problem Statement

While others may consider Baltimore to be a struggling city, plagued by drugs, crime, disinvestment, and political corruption, we see a city full of people that have never had the opportunity to reach their full potential. The poverty rate is among the highest in the country, educational attainment, income and employment rates are among the lowest. These statistics provide a glimpse into the overall state of Baltimore but are merely symptoms of larger issues. The children of Baltimore are being robbed of their futures and of opportunity for generational capacity and wealth by living in old and deteriorating homes with lead-based paint, poor indoor air quality and injury hazards that negatively impact their health and well-being. Most notably, the children of Baltimore have been hindered for decades by racist housing policies and exposure to household paint that contains lead, a neurotoxin that is known to dramatically increase a child’s risk of dropping out of school and entering the criminal justice system. The city of Baltimore has one of the highest rates of asthma in the country, of which asthma exacerbation is the number 1 reason that children miss school. In addition, Baltimore residents spend among the highest proportion of their income on housing and utility costs, diminishing the total amount of disposable income. The quality and conditions of the homes in Baltimore are a tremendous problem, one that has had and continues to have a significant impact on the life trajectory of Baltimore’s children and residents.

Solution Overview

GHHI’s solution deploys MacArthur’s investment to transform Baltimore by eradicating lead hazards and creating better opportunities for children and communities. Lead poisoning has destroyed the trajectory of black and brown children to learn, earn and thrive. Communities like Baltimore have lost generational capacity, wealth and opportunity while struggling with resulting displacement and crime due to the toxic legacy of lead. Yet Baltimore, a city denigrated by decades of racist housing policies, has shown the nation a path out of the stranglehold of lead poisoning - seeing a 99% reduction in lead poisoning since 1993 due to the health protective housing policies championed by GHHI. We will use this investment to demonstrate at scale how a city can deliver on the promise of healthy and lead safe housing: through investing in impacted communities to train, certify, employ hazard remediation providers for over 6,500 homes, strengthening fair housing systems improving health, housing, educational, economic and social outcomes. This investment will help create national lead poisoning prevention action model for cities, states and policy makers and act as an accelerator for urgent investment that meets the national scale of lead’s toxic legacy. An investment of $85 million in interventions to address lead hazards will bring $1.4 billion in economic return to Baltimore, while spurring $12.5 billion in investments nationally. The scale of this investment represents a tipping point – where we move away from making small changes at the margins of a large problem, and toward a bold model for truly transformative change.

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Project Funders

  • JPB Foundation 2014 - 2020
  • Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

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