By: Marcus Smith
All year, we will be celebrating the 15th anniversary of Connecticut Children’s Healthy Homes Program (Healthy Homes) by shining a spotlight on those who have helped us fulfill our mission to make Connecticut’s homes safe and healthy. Since 2003, Healthy Homes has helped over 2,500 families. We are proud to count the Town of Manchester among our longest-standing partners, and have teamed up to improve more than 100 homes in that city by making them lead-safe and healthy.
Healthy Homes is designed with the needs of the community at the center of the program. With housing as a platform for health, the ultimate goal is to provide residents with a safe, secure and healthy home in which families and children can thrive. By partnering with local agencies and stakeholders, Healthy Homes can effectively leverage resources that are already in place. In Manchester, Healthy Homes collaborates with the Town’s Housing Rehabilitation Program to not only address lead issues, but also property maintenance code concerns.
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Heather Guerette is a Program Manager for the Town’s Housing Rehab Program. She sees the importance of partnering to do more with the resources on hand.
“Healthy Homes and the Manchester Housing Rehab Program work collaboratively on properties with extensive lead hazards that, to properly address, will exceed programmatic spending caps,” said Guerette. “If Healthy Homes is addressing lead hazards on a property where they find property maintenance code issues, my program can contribute funds for that work. Overall, our partnership enables us to leverage funding and make lower-income Manchester homes significantly safer.”
Other organizations serving the community contribute as well. Healthy Homes and the Town are currently partnering with Rebuilding Together to tackle larger items like a roof replacement that will prevent water penetration and mold, which contribute to an unhealthy and unsafe living environment.
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Among the many residents of Manchester who have been helped by Healthy Homes is the Ruiz family. A father of six and living in an older home, Angel Ruiz first learned of the program through an information session about the dangers of lead paint and its effects on a child’s development.
“I remember thinking ‘our home was built in the late 1800’s and it can have lead,'” Ruiz recalls. “I knew I had to act, for my children’s sake.”
Soon after enrolling in the program, Ruiz’s home was inspected for lead, radon and other health hazards. Contractors working with the Healthy Homes program made the home lead-safe, and installed window guards and handrails to further prevent injury. Ruiz also received further information on how to maintain the home after the work was complete.
“I could not be more grateful and satisfied that the Healthy Homes program is key to the well-being of our children’s health,” added Ruiz. “I am a true believer! The professionalism, honesty, transparency and sincere willingness to help did not go unnoticed. We need to spread the word about this program!”
Marcus Smith is the senior manager of Connecticut Children’s Healthy Homes Program, which is a program of Connecticut Children’s Office for Community Child Health.
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