Oneida County, City of Utica sign on to national healthy homes compact

Community Foundation, Lead-Free-MV announce Green & Healthy Homes Initiative

The Lead-Free Mohawk Valley Coalition has launched an initiative aimed at expanding area efforts to provide safe, affordable housing. In partnership with The Community Foundation of Herkimer & Oneida Counties, Oneida County and the City of Utica are collaborating in a Green & Healthy Homes Initiative (GHHI) compact, a comprehensive effort that will align lead hazard reduction with a full range of improvements to housing in the targeted area.

On November 7, Community Foundation President/CEO Alicia Dicks, GHHI President/CEO Ruth Ann Norton, Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente, Jr., and Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri launched the GHHI on-boarding process, officially engaging the County, City, Community Foundation and the Lead-Free MV Coalition.

“Eliminating lead poisoning has been a priority for my administration, and Oneida County has seen a significant decrease in lead poisoning rates over the last decade,” Picente said. “Still, more work remains, and the GHHI compact will expand efforts to ensure the availability of safe, healthy housing.”

Oneida County has led area efforts to address childhood lead exposure with a primary prevention program—among the first launched in New York state—and a longstanding secondary prevention program. The City, through the Mayor’s regular quality-of-life sweeps, has worked to call attention to and address housing and other issues in challenged Utica neighborhoods.

“The City of Utica strongly supports the adoption of the GHHI model, and I’m confident that the County, City, Community Foundation and our other coalition partners will make the most of this opportunity in the coming months,” Palmieri said. “This effort is a necessary and natural part of the City’s continuing revitalization.”

The Community Foundation, partnering with the County, City and more than two dozen organizations, launched the Lead-Free MV Coalition with an initial $1 million commitment, which was increased by $5 million earlier this year.

GHHI, a national non-profit founded in 1986 as the Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning, has developed a national, comprehensive model for integrating home health, energy efficiency and weatherization home interventions that align partners with other housing, energy and health intervention providers. GHHI-Utica-Oneida County will be the 25th GHHI site in the nation.

Over the next six months, GHHI-Utica-Oneida County, with technical assistance provided by GHHI staff, will work to adopt and fulfill criteria that are part of GHHI’s national model, including:

  • Analysis of asset gaps
  • Data collection and analysis to demonstrate impact and cost-savings
  • Coordination of housing, health, energy, education and other partners to better deliver holistic home-based services to families
  • Development of a highly skilled, cross-trained workforce to deliver services
  • Fundraising to achieve desired outcomes
  • Sharing progress and impact with the public

“Working with GHHI to break the link between unhealthy housing and unhealthy families is the next logical step in Lead-Free MV’s evolution,” Dicks said. “It’s exciting that the County and City will help lead this effort to create and advocate for health, safe, energy-efficient homes.”