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Obama administration gears up for new 'healthy housing' initiative

By Doug Powers  •  February 9, 2013 01:38 PM

**Written by Doug Powers

The Obama administration is starting a new push that will no doubt make housing “healthy” the same way they’re making health care “affordable.”

From CNS News:

This week, the Obama administration released a “bold new vision for addressing the nation’s health and economic burdens caused by preventable hazards associated with the home.”

The project has a name: “Advancing Healthy Housing: A Strategy for Action.”

“People in the United States spend about 70% of their time in a home,” the announcement said.

“Currently, millions of U.S. homes have moderate to severe physical housing problems, including dilapidated structure; roofing problems; heating, plumbing, and electrical deficiencies; water leaks and intrusion; pests; damaged paint; and high radon gas levels. These conditions are associated with a wide range of health issues, including unintentional injuries, respiratory illnesses like asthma and radon-induced lung cancer, lead poisoning, result in lost school days for children, as well as lost productivity in the labor force.”

According to the Obama administration, the health and economic burdens from preventable hazards associated with both subsidized and privately owned homes cost billions of dollars.

The new strategy “unifies” federal efforts to advance healthy housing — “demonstrating the connection between housing conditions and residents’ health.”
HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan says the federal government must do “everything we can to ensure that individuals and families have a healthy place to call home.” He said the strategy “will help the federal government unify action (on) controlling and preventing major housing-related exposures and hazards.”

What if you don’t think your home is a potential health hazard? “Denial!”:

The report also says many home-based hazards are preventable — “and opportunities exist for intervention programs that would not only reduce health impacts on occupants, but the economic burden as well, resulting in a positive return on investment.”

The program has five stated goals:

Goals One and Two: Establish and Encourage Adoption of Federally-Recognized Criteria for Healthy Homes. The Strategy for Action calls upon federal agencies to develop consensus on the basic concept of a healthy home – building off eight characteristics, including dry, clean, pest free, safe, contaminant free, well ventilated, and well maintained and thermally controlled – and encourage adoption of this consensus across federal agencies, tribal governments, state and local governments, and non-governmental organizations.

Heaven forbid the homeowner decide the criteria for what constitutes a healthy home.

Goal Three: Create and Support Training and Workforce Development to Address Health Hazards in Housing. Building a cadre of trained experts that deliver healthy homes services, including weatherization and retrofitting in neighborhood homes is at the core of the Strategy. The plan includes leveraging existing workforce development efforts, such as Department of Labor’s efforts in training workers for, and connecting workers to, jobs in a clean energy economy and green construction.

Hasn’t that been tried? As I recall the “green jobs” programs are very green for unions/administration cronies and light on the jobs end of things.

Goal Four: Educate the Public about Healthy Homes. The Strategy promotes adoption of a public communications campaign to help people connect the dots between their health and their home.

Speaking of connecting dots, the government’s always quick to make it clear they think most of us are irresponsible idiots but never go on to point out that the government educated 90 percent of us. And they wonder why I don’t want them tinkering with my hot water heater?

More good news… the government considers itself a “stakeholder” in our lives and homes:

Goal Five: Support Research that Informs and Advances Healthy Housing in a Cost-Effective Manner. The Strategy identifies areas in which rigorous healthy homes research is needed to help federal, state, and local stakeholders enhance their decision-making in a cost-effective manner and reduce actions that have unintended consequences.

For examples of actions that have unintended consequences, see almost every other government program.

Where is this headed? I’m envisioning eventual door-to-door “home health inspections” conducted by teams of three government workers trained at the soon to be announced “Joseph R. Biden School of Healthy Housing Green Jobs Training and Taco Bell.” One inspector will check your appliances and ventilation, another will set up a series of web cameras along with a tiny drone to fly around the house so your safety can be remotely monitored at all times, and the other will conduct a comprehensive asbestos check in your underwear drawer (don’t question the motives of the experts).

(h/t Kristina)

**Written by Doug Powers

Twitter @ThePowersThatBe

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