CLEVELAND, Ohio — Renters in Cleveland have a new resource to help them find quality, safe housing.
The website (housing.health) is the latest project of the Cleveland Healthy Home Data Collective, a partnership between Environmental Health Watch, the city’s public health department, MetroHealth, University Hospitals, Global Health Metrics, the city’s building and housing department, Case Western Reserve University’s Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development, and community members.
The aim of Housing.Health is to “improve community health and housing stability,” according to a news release. It focuses in particular on addressing health disparities related to asthma and lead poisoning.
Users of the database can research housing conditions by visiting housing.health and typing in a property address. The database contains records on some 450,000 homes, integrated from multiple city departments.
Housing.Health provides information on property ownership, tax delinquency, rental registration status, code violations and potential health risks.
Users can compare multiple properties side-by-side. The website also contains sections with information and resources related to lead poisoning and asthma.
Each property in the database is designated as having a low, elevated, or high risk of containing lead hazards, based on public records on housing violations and property age. The database does not have information on whether properties have been deemed lead-safe, but that data will be added later as it becomes available.
The website also includes a “safety risk” category, based on reported housing code violations.
A “healthy” home, according to the website, is one that is dry, clean, pest-free, safe, contaminant-free, ventilated, maintained and thermally controlled.
“Our homes can make us sick,” Akbar Tyler, director of healthy homes and training at Environmental Health Watch, said in a statement. “Hazards such as pests, contaminates, mold and lead paint contribute to acute and chronic illness. Housing.Health can be your first stop for information before you sign a lease.”
The project is part of the national BUILD Health Challenge, which in 2017 awarded a two-year, $250,000 grant to Environmental Health Watch and its partners to make accessible data that addresses health disparities in the city. The group previously received a BUILD Health grant in 2015.
“To realize the system change and equitable policies that we say we want, resident leaders and people of color from impacted communities must be at the center of decision making,” said EHW Executive Director Kim Foreman. “Institutions must provide a supportive role to resident-led solutions. We have to share resources and power, valuing people’s lived experience, which is just as important and sometimes more valuable than someone with a master’s degree or Ph.D.”
Housing.Health builds upon previous efforts to make information about housing conditions available to the public. In 2017, the city, with funding from EHW, made available to the public a searchable online database of homes with known lead hazards.
A demonstration on how to use housing.health will take place at the Lead and Healthy Homes Resource Fair, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at Cory Recreation Center, 10510 Drexel Ave. The event, where attendees can learn about resources to help prevent lead poisoning in their homes, is free and open to the public.