BERLIN – A new partnership among three area agencies is expected to reduce unsafe living conditions.
On Wednesday, the Chesapeake Housing Mission (CHM), Atlantic General Hospital and the Worcester County Health Department announced the launch of its “Healthy Homes Initiative,” a three-pronged approach to reducing unsafe and unhealthy living conditions in homes across Worcester County.
Officials say the partnership is the first of its kind in the region and is focused on people living below the poverty level. The main goal of the initiative, they say, is prevention of falls and other illness caused by living in an unhealthy environment.
“Over the past six years, Chesapeake Housing Mission has repaired 91 homes in our county. Such a huge number, but it only translates to 3.8% of the need,” said Sally Dowling, co-interim president and CEO of Atlantic General. “With this initiative, we aim to increase the awareness of the social determinants of health in our community and to focus on improving our population’s health by impacting their home living environment.”
Don Taylor, executive director for the Chesapeake Housing Mission, said his agency has completed 600 critical home repairs over the past 11 years, resulting in fewer falls and reductions in hospital costs and emergency room admissions. But he noted those efforts only represent a fraction of the work that can be done.
To that end, the three agencies say they are teaming up on the Healthy Homes Initiative.
“We’ve been working together for a while, but formalizing our agreement and bringing it to the table and lending that support is very important to us,” Taylor said.
As part of the partnership, Chesapeake Housing Mission will provide critical home repair services to Worcester County residents living below the poverty level by designing, obtaining permits and providing materials for the projects, while Atlantic General Hospital and Health System will provide employee work teams to complete projects and reimburse CHM for materials. The Worcester County Health Department will collaborate with CHM to screen vulnerable adults who may be in need of critical home repairs and work on a training program on home safety and health.
“We’re looking forward to a closer relationship that will enable the Chesapeake Housing Mission and the Worcester County Health Department to identify safety issues and clients’ needs,” said Worcester County Health Department’s Tracey Age.
A collaboration between the three groups is expected to facilitate improved living conditions for poverty-level residents and help them remain safely in their homes by reducing the risk of falls and other health problems, increasing access to services and improving quality of life in Worcester County. A press conference was held on Wednesday to formalize the agreement.
“We believe the Healthy Homes Initiative fits perfectly with our long-term strategic initiatives,” Dowling said, “and we are committed to and excited to provide the necessary resources to support or community.”
Taylor added the partnership was about neighbor helping neighbor.
“We love this partnership and think it’s going to make a dramatic improvement,” he said.