BUILDing Towards a Culture of Healthy Housing in New Brunswick: a year in review
The New Brunswick Healthy Housing Collaborative has reach the end of our first year and we’re also about to close out the first phase of the initiative. To recap, the New Brunswick Healthy Housing Collaborative was created and focused on improving health outcomes by mitigating housing issues facing residents within the Esperanza and Unity Square neighborhoods; two neighborhoods with some of the greatest health and social disparities within the city. The Collaborative also looks to make system changes to our local health and social institutions, including government, to promote, sustain, and ensure healthy housing practices in New Brunswick.
Our first year was focused on the development and implementation of community and stakeholder trainings and community forums that both promoted awareness on the importance of healthy housing, as well as, provided our Collaborative with stakeholder and resident insight on the issue. We also established a resident-led outreach team comprised of a coordinator and 7 community health ambassadors that were trained on effective outreach, healthy housing practices and on conducting home assessments. Through the dedication and efforts of the outreach team, our Collaborative was able to increase our goal of 100 homes assessed to 120. Although we have completed our data analysis, we have already anecdotally identified certain heath housing issues such as pest control and landlords not making necessary repairs.
We also were able to establish new partnerships that helped propel the work forward. For example, our collaboration with Central Jersey Legal Services has led to the health ambassadors being educated on tenant rights to better help other residents understand their rights. Another new partnership was with the American Red Cross which incorporated the installation of over 269 smoke alarms within 66 homes since late August.
One of our new partnerships has already resulted in a positive system change towards healthy housing. Our work with the New Brunswick Rent Control Office has led to the creation of a referral system that has streamlined the addressing of resident complaints from our outreach team and they have also agreed to publicly provide information on registered rental properties, such as; the current rent amount; the number of allowable occupancy, and whether there’s active complaints on the property on their website. This data will better inform our Collaborative and the general public identify “problem” properties within the city leading to code enforcement and ultimately safer and healthier homes.
We look forward to next year and the next phase of our initiative that will concentrate on following up with the homes assessed to help in mitigating outstanding issues; and also developing the system and policy changes both in our local government and among local organizations that will help sustain a culture around health homes in new Brunswick.
About the Grantee
New Brunswick Tomorrow's mission is to improve the quality of life for all New Brunswick residents; driving ideas, partnerships and initiatives that reinvigorate lives and move people forward. Within Community Health, a major focus area, we look to improve health outcomes by promoting health active lifestyles, preventing diseases, and increasing access to health services.