Healthy Rental Housing: Current Risks and Opportunities for New Partnerships

Healthy Rental Housing: Current Risks and Opportunities for New Partnerships

June 29th, 2017


This June, the Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity held a Shared Prosperity Roundtable on healthy rental housing, convening members from over twenty organizations. The goal of the roundtable was to share resources, identify opportunities for cross-sector collaboration and learn about new initiatives to create safe, healthy homes for low-income renters in Philadelphia.  Welcoming the guests was Rasheeda Phillips, Esq. from Community Legal Services. “Our hope is that this Roundtable gives us the chance to increase our dialogue between health care and housing sectors”, stated Phillips.

Instead of our typical breakout discussions, two panels highlighted the stress and outcomes of unhealthy living conditions and how large institutions can play a role in creating better outcomes for people who need it most.

The first panel was entitled “Health Impacts of Substandard Rental Housing”. Imani Sullivan from Witnesses to Hunger spoke on her personal struggle with finding and affording healthy housing and how living in unhealthy conditions has impacted her children’s health and her own. A resident of North Philadelphia, Sullivan shared that she has been on the Section 8 waiting list for 17 years.

Moderating the second panel on “Exploring Cross-Sector Solutions” was Edward Thomas, Healthy Homes Representative for the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Edward Thomas shared HUD’s Healthy Homes App, a free app that has helpful hints on ways to make your homes safe and healthy. Other panelists discussed how the role pediatricians and clinical provider’s play is essential to collectively working together in improving housing conditions for families and their children who live in poverty. Panelists from medical institutions in high poverty areas like Temple University Hospital and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia gave their expertise on how they have been working to collaborate with surrounding community to track and alleviate substandard housing conditions. Dr. Palak Raval Nelson, Director of Environmental Health Services, Dept. of Public Health underscored emotional and behavioral issues that can stem from living with high levels of lead. “There is no healthy level of lead” Dr. Nelson stated.

At each Roundtable, we ask participants to share their experience and opinions so we can improve future events. Here’s what you thought of our June Roundtable:

  • 97.5% of respondents reported the event was good or excellent.
  • Over 90% of respondents felt that they learned something new about rental housing and health.
  • Over 90% of respondents left having a better understanding about opportunities to work outside of their sector to improve conditions for low income renters.

As always thanks for your participation and feedback!