April 10, 2013 – On Friday, April 12, City Code Enforcement Officers will attend an all-day training on healthy housing issues in Omaha. The training is a pilot program funded by the EPA and the National Center for Healthy Housing.
Omaha Healthy Kids Alliance, a local nonprofit that works on Healthy Housing issues, is working with the Planning Department to ensure the training meets their needs. According to the Alliance’s CEO, Kara Eastman, this training demonstrates a strong commitment on behalf of the City to address issues in homes like mold, lead poisoning hazards, carbon monoxide, safety issues and asthma triggers. According to Eastman, “our Planning Department was handpicked to have this training brought to us; it shows how committed our city is to finding innovative solutions to complex problems.”
The training is being offered to City Code Enforcement Officers and Building Inspectors, as well as the Douglas County Health Department Lead Risk Assessors and Omaha Housing Authority Inspectors. It will focus on the connection between the structure of the home, violations in codes or regulations, and their potential impact on the health of the occupants. About 30 people are expected to be trained.
On February 13th, 2013, Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Mike Johanns
(R-NE) introduced two bills pertaining to healthy housing, the Title X
Amendments Act and the Healthy Housing Council Act. The bipartisan bills
seek to better integrate healthy housing activities into the ongoing
lead poisoning prevention work at the U.S. Department of Housing and
Urban Development (HUD) and improve federal coordination of healthy
housing efforts. The National Center for Healthy Housing (NCHH) praises
Senator Reed’s and Senator Johanns’ initiative and commitment to
presenting the bills to their esteemed colleagues and peers for
bipartisan Congressional support.
“The introduction of the two bills reflects a much needed commitment to
the creation of healthy, sustainable homes. NCHH will continue to seek
support for such impactful and efficiency-minded legislation,” said
Rebecca Morley, executive director of the National Center for Healthy
Housing. “We commend Senators Reed and Johanns for continuing to take a
strong role in bringing the nation’s focus to the importance of
improving housing conditions throughout our neighborhoods.”
The Title X Amendments Act, S. 290, which is co-sponsored by Senators Al
Franken (D-MN), and Barbara Boxer (D-CA), would permit HUD to continue
to carry out healthy housing activities while protecting important
ongoing lead remediation efforts, and streamline families’ eligibility
for assistance. The amendments are necessary reforms designed to improve
and expedite the delivery of cost-effective services, while aligning
legislative authority with current needs and practices.
Technical amendments to Title X of the Housing and Community Development
Act will accomplish major policy goals including: Expand the existing Title
X statute to enable other health and safety threats to be treated through
the lead hazard control grant program at HUD.Permit a healthy homes and
lead hazard control grantee to use another program’s income and
eligibility information to qualify for HUD lead and healthy homes funds.Add
a provision to include zero-bedroom units in HUD’s lead hazard control
program.Allow tribal governments to apply for funding, as well as
non-profit organizations that have the support of state or local
On January 22, 2013, Senator Sara Howard of Omaha introduced LB 427, the Carbon Monoxide Safety Act, which would require that owners of single-family and multi-family dwellings install and maintain carbon monoxide detectors in their properties by September 1, 2014. The properties are described as having fire fueled heaters or appliances, fireplaces and attached garages. The carbon monoxide detectors are to be installed within 15 feet of any entrance to each room used for sleeping.
The Centers for Disease Control lists Nebraska as the number one state in the country for carbon monoxide (CO) related deaths. Carbon monoxide leaks occur when homes have cracked heat exchanges, faulty furnaces, or inefficient seals in piping. Residents in older homes are at higher risk, especially if furnaces and chimneys have not been maintained regularly.
“Today I introduced LB 427 to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning in Nebraska”, says Senator Howard. “This bill is a common sense solution that will protect Nebraska’s families from sickness and death caused by carbon monoxide.”