Government in Action
Federal Agencies Working to Make Homes Healthier
Several federal agencies, including the EPA and HUD among others, have unveiled Advancing Healthy Housing – A Strategy for Action. The initiative represents a new vision for addressing the nation's health and economic burdens caused by preventable hazards associated with the home. The Strategy for Action encourages federal agencies to take pre-emptive actions that will help reduce the number of American homes with health and safety hazards.
People in the United States spend about 70% of their time in a home. 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. The health and economic burdens from preventable hazards associated with the home are considerable and cost billions of dollars.
The Strategy for Action unifies, for the first time, federal action to advance healthy housing, demonstrating the connection between housing conditions and residents' health. It also promotes strategies and methods intended to reduce in-home health hazards in a cost-effective manner.
"Thanks to unprecedented collaboration across the federal family and among our many partners, we now have a specific plan for action to address radon and other preventable hazards found in homes across the country," said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson.
The overall vision for the strategy is to reduce the number of American homes with residential health and safety hazards, achieved through five goals:
1. Establish healthy homes recommendations
2. Encourage adoption of healthy homes recommendations
3. Create and support training and workforce development to address health hazards in housing
4. Educate the public about healthy homes
5. Support research that informs and advances healthy housing in a cost-effective manner
For more on the Strategy for Action, visit the interagency Healthy Homes website, www.healthyhomes.hud.gov.
Survey Says: Homeownership More Desirable
More and more renters aspire to become homeowners, according to a 2012 survey by the Pultegroup. According to survey results, nearly 60 percent of current renters plan to purchase a home in the next two years.
The survey also revealed key motivations behind the respondents' plans for homeownership. Forty-nine percent simply want the chance to call themselves homeowners, 44 percent view owning a home as a good financial investment, and 36 percent need more space for their family and/or children.
The survey also revealed that twice as many homeowners today, compared to two years ago, expect to have adult or aging parents living with them in the future, which could lead to a demographic shift toward multigenerational homes.
For more detail on the survey's result, visit: www.realtor.org/for-the-media/story-ideas/still-the-american-dream.
VA Joins with Million Hearts Campaign
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Department of Health and Human Services have joined forces to promote the Million Hearts™ campaign –– a national initiative that has set a goal of preventing one million heart attacks and strokes over five years.
The Million Hearts™ campaign encourages a targeted focus on the "ABCS" – Aspirin for people at risk, Blood pressure control, Cholesterol management, and Smoking cessation –– all of which address the major risk factors for cardiovascular disease and can prevent heart attacks and strokes.
VA has tobacco-use cessation clinicians at each VA facility, as well as dietitians who are available to provide nutrition counseling.
MOVE! — VA's national weight management program is helping Veterans lose weight and keep it off. And highly trained VA pharmacists are talking to their patients about the importance of staying on blood pressure medications and controlling their hypertension.
Many Veterans in VA primary care population have chronic conditions, and many have multiple diagnoses. Of this population, 52 percent have hypertension, 36 percent have obesity, 24 percent have diabetes, and 18 percent have coronary heart disease.
VA's increased focus on helping patients quit smoking, lose weight, eat healthier, and become more physically active, will enhance the successful tobacco and alcohol intervention programs already in place, and help Veterans achieve greater success.
To learn more, visit the VA's site at www.va.gov.