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Grant program to help Baltimore seniors ‘live with health and dignity’

A Baltimore-based nonprofit is planning to use grant funding to create 300 healthy and energy-efficient homes in the eastern parts of the city.

The Green & Healthy Home Initiative will use a $2 million grant to complete the transformation. Funding was received from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to target households at or below 80% of the area’s median income.

“We’ve been doing this work for about 30 years, so we need to do more of it to change the moral compass of the standard of housing for low-income families,” Ruth Ann Norton, president and CEO of Green & Healthy Homes Initiative (GHHI) told The Center Square.

The program targets homes that are energy inefficient and those that worsen respiratory disease, including poor ventilation, leaky roofs, mold, mildew, moisture, pest management, carpeting issues and issues around lead-based paint, she said. Homes with structural defects are also included.

“We want to allow seniors to live with health and dignity in their own home as they age,” Norton said. “But it’s a major factor in also helping to create intergenerational wealth transfer for low-income communities.”

GHHI wants to create healthier environments to help families. Fixing the homes is tangible work, and transformational in closing the health disparities gap and opening up an opportunities gap.

U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-MD, worked to secure a $100,000 grant for the program, which was utilized with a $500,000 from ProMedica Health, to help fund the initiative.

The healthy homes project will work to show that improving the structural health of housing will lower taxpayer costs for Medicare and Medicaid. It also cuts reliance on fuel assistance and low-income heating assistance and creates a more stable environment.

The study GHHI did on 240 homes showed an 88% improvement in work attendance by parents. The children don’t miss school because they are sick or are being taken to a doctor’s appointment, letting parents focus on work.

GHHI has other programs to help people with housing, such as lead hazard control and weatherization. Baltimore also offers housing upgrade benefits for seniors. The program focuses on older adults and making those homes safe from trip-and-fall injuries.

The lead hazard program removes those hazards created by lead-based paint, which is 84% of the reason kids get poisoned, she said.

The Baltimore Housing Department and the Maryland Energy Administration fund energy efficiency work in Baltimore City and Baltimore County for low-income households.

Families wanting to participate in the program can apply through the health department or the state’s Department of the Environment.

This article was originally posted on Grant program to help Baltimore seniors ‘live with health and dignity’

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