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SOURCE National Center for Healthy Housing
Report Shows 40 Percent of U.S. Homes have Health and Safety Hazards
COLUMBIA, Md., Sept. 30, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The National Center for Healthy Housing (NCHH) has released the newest results of The State of Healthy Housing, a comprehensive study of housing conditions in 46 metropolitan areas of the nation. The study reveals that 35 million– 40 percent – of metropolitan homes in the U.S. have one or more health and safety hazards.
"Our study shows that a shocking number of Americans are living with serious health and safety risks," said Rebecca Morley, executive director, National Center for Healthy Housing.
NCHH researchers found that the physical conditions of U.S. housing have declined since the last survey in 2009, which found that about 30 million homes (or 35 percent) had health and safety hazards. The foreclosure crisis and the blighted conditions that followed may be one factor in the decline.
"Notwithstanding today's headlines regarding an emerging housing recovery, The State of Healthy Housing underscores the need to improve housing conditions across the country," said Nicolas P. Retsinas, director emeritus of Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing Studies. "The report documents that healthy homes remain elusive for far too many homeowners, renters and their children. The findings in this report should motivate government, business and nonprofit leaders to come together to ensure that all families have a decent place to live."
According to The State of Healthy Housing, the metropolitan areas of San Jose, Calif.; Indianapolis, Ind.; and Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Fla.; rank at the top of the list for having the healthiest housing. At the bottom of the list for having the least healthy houses are the metropolitan areas of San Antonio, Texas; Birmingham, Ala; and Memphis, Tenn.
"No matter where you live, people should have access to a safe and healthy home," said Maurice Jones, HUD's Deputy Secretary. "The State of Healthy Housing report documents some of the challenges we face to make this goal a reality. HUD is committed to finding real and lasting solutions to these unhealthy housing conditions."
NCHH measures healthy housing by using 20 housing characteristics that relate to health from the American Housing Survey. The survey is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and conducted by the Census Bureau. Those characteristics include: incomplete plumbing and kitchen facilities; deficient electrical, heating, or plumbing systems; ventilation and moisture problems; the presence of mice and other pests; and poorly maintained building elements. The most common problems identified include water leaks, roofing problems, damaged interior walls, and signs of mice.
The State of Healthy Housing report compared owner-occupied dwellings with rental properties across 46 metropolitan areas of the country and examined conditions in central city housing compared with housing located outside the central city. Across metropolitan statistical areas, rental properties tend to have more problems than owner-occupied dwellings, and central city housing has more problems than housing located outside the central city. Although there are exceptions to these trends, central city rental properties are typically older and, because of limited housing choices, are more likely to be inhabited by lower income residents.
Housing has been implicated in an array of health problems, including asthma, lead poisoning, and cancer. These environmental-related diseases are estimated to cost the U.S. $70 billion a year.
The State of Healthy Housing and complete results of the report are available online at http://www.nchh.org/Policy/2013StateofHealthyHousing.aspx.
About the National Center for Healthy Housing
The National Center for Healthy Housing is the preeminent national nonprofit dedicated to creating safe and healthy housing for America's families. It has trained over 35,000 individuals in lead-safe and healthy housing practices, and its research provides the scientific basis for major federal policies and programs. Follow NCHH on Twitter @nchh or become a fan on Facebook at Facebook.com/HealthyHousing. To see a video about NCHH, visit http://vimeo.com/59202134.
Executive Director, National Center for Healthy Housing
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