Georgia Receives $391,000 Grant from The Kresge Foundation for “Healthy Families” Project
ATLANTA–The Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA), in partnership with Southface and the Georgia Health Policy Center (GHPC), is pleased to announce the support of The Kresge Foundation in a joint venture with local public housing authorities (PHAs) to improve the ability of PHAs to address residents’ health through better quality housing and improved access to services. The Georgia HFA Healthy Families project has been awarded $391,962 to help communities overcome the environmental and social disadvantages that contribute to poor health. The grant period for the project is from July 1, 2017, to June 30, 2020. This effort builds on new and long-time relationships to strengthen the linkages between health and housing.
“The Kresge Foundation is happy to support the Georgia Department of Community Affairs and their partners as they embed a range of services in public housing that will improve educational, health and social outcomes for residents,” said Chris Kabel, Deputy Director of The Kresge Foundation’s Health Program. “We hope that the results they are able to generate through the Healthy Families project will influence how public housing in other states is designed.”
Healthy communities bring together social, economic and environmental goals to strengthen their ability to promote and sustain health, and improve the quality of life for all residents. This initiative focuses on capacity building, knowledge exchange, and outcome tracking across multiple pilot sites in communities around the state. PHAs bring experience in service partnerships, quality development, and green building to the table. DCA’s partnership with GHPC and Southface adds expertise in the public health and building science fields. Each participating PHA team has agreed to fund a Resident Services Coordinator (RSC) position at these sites to implement connections between residents and health services, support outcome tracking, and foster relationships with health-focused organizations.
“Social and health transformation is a team effort,” said DCA Commissioner Camila Knowles. “Pooling resources and streamlining services is the best way to ensure lasting, concrete results.”
In addition, GHPC and Southface will establish a “Health and Housing Learning Academy” to foster the learning and exchange of ideas between PHAs. Leveraging each organization’s expertise, GHPC and Southface will co-develop a curriculum and materials to educate and engage all stakeholders in the design, construction, and operations of the PHA housing stock and communities. This initiative will create a win-win scenario for all constituents – PHAs, developers, residents and the community – resulting in the improved health and well-being of residents; healthy, durable and efficient housing stock; and physically, socially and economically strong communities.
“At Southface, quality of life is at the center of our mission as it speaks to improving the lives of people and communities through sustainability,” said Andrea Pinabell, President at Southface. “We are so excited about this project with The Kresge Foundation, DCA and GHPC as it allows us to demonstrate how good indoor environmental quality positively affects people in their homes and then scale the information to educate and build awareness as to the linkage between health and built environment.”
The goal of this initiative is not only to undertake health training, exchange, and measurements that will benefit each PHA involved, but also to produce outward facing baseline data, publications, and knowledge sharing at both the state and national level. It is the intent of DCA and its partners to build upon this program and share the building blocks with other PHAs in the state and the health and housing industry nationally to make health and wellness initiatives, and ultimately self-sufficiency, a fundamental part of housing assistance.
“This initiative aligns perfectly with our mission of integrating research, policy, and programs to advance health and well-being,” said Leigh Alderman, Senior Advisor at GHPC. “Research consistently shows a relationship between housing and health, and that housing policy and programs can impact well-being of residents across their lives, and across the lives of their children and grandchildren. This initiative not only aims to ensure health-promoting programs and policies are implemented at the PHA partner sites, it is also designed to contribute to the evidence base on how housing and public health professionals can intentionally build health and well-being into housing policy and programs.”