Rosa Vaquera lives in Barrio Logan and is a single mother of four children. According to CalEnviroScreen, Rosa’s community ranks in the top 25 percent of census tracts for pollution impact, including a high risk for asthma. Rosa and her daughter Ximena both suffer from asthma. Ximena's is an extreme type of asthma that prevents her from playing outdoors as frequently as other children her age. At the same time, Rosa and Ximena's asthma was also being aggravated indoors.

Maria and Ximena

[Learn how to create a healthy home for your family]


Healthy Homes Assessment

In 2018, Rosa attended a community-based EHC workshop on the air quality and monitoring at Perkins Elementary School. After the workshop, she filled out an intake form expressing interest in a Healthy Homes Assessment, and a possible indoor air filter for her home. An assessment of Rosa's home revealed that she did not open her windows for most of the day. This was mainly because of bad odors and loud noises common in her neighborhood.

The practice of keeping windows shut in her area is more accurately a result of air pollution and living in a neighborhood with an outdated community plan. The 1978 Barrio Logan community plan permits mixed land use zoning, allowing polluting industries and businesses to operate in residential areas, often much too close to homes and schools. Rosa and Ximena live next door to such industries.

During the Healthy Homes Assessment, EHC learned that Ximena would have asthma attacks on a monthly basis, often at night. In an attempt to improve air circulation, Rosa would open windows, but only in the kitchen and not in the living room or children's bedrooms. This created poor air circulation, especially in Ximena’s small, shared room where the window always remained closed. Rosa also regularly hired friends to clean her house when her family was not home due to their extreme sensitivity to toxic cleaning supplies.

Living in a Healthier Home

Rosa has implemented many of the recommendations given to her after EHC's Healthy Homes Assessment. These include having most of the windows open to improve air circulation, use of non-toxic cleaning solutions, and turning on her stove fan while cooking. EHC determined that Rosa's home qualified to receive indoor and outdoor air monitors and a Home IQ Air Filter. Both Rosa and Ximena are breathing much better because of living in a healthier home.

EHC is committed to improving the quality of life in our communities by fighting conditions that expose low-income communities of color to environmental hazards. We want Ximena to grow up healthy with clean air, regardless of where she lives.

June is National Healthy Homes Month (NHHM). This year's theme is Growing Up Healthy: 5 Minutes to a Healthier Home, and it focuses on the opportunity to protect current and future generations of children from the exposures to lead from contaminated paint, dust and soil; through the importance of home assessments and the impact it has on your health.

At EHC, we believe that a home should be a safe and nurturing environment, especially for children. Everyone deserves a healthy home, yet this is not the lived reality for many residents in low-income communities of color. Many homes in San Diego's environmental justice (EJ) communities were built before 1979 and may have lead-based paint hazards in and around the buildings, which can cause permanent brain damage and other serious health problems in children.

Read Rosa and Ximena's story

 

CHECK OUT THESE INFOGRAPHICS FROM NHHM:

NHHM Lead Poisoning      NHHM Pet Friendly


More Infographics

 

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

Here are eight principles of keeping a home healthy (from HUD):

  1. Keep it Dry
    Prevent water from entering your home through leaks in roofing systems, rainwater from entering the home due to poor drainage, and check your interior plumbing for any leaking.

  2. Keep it Clean
    Control the source of dust and contaminants, creating smooth and cleanable surfaces, reducing clutter, and using effective wet-cleaning methods.

  3. Keep it Safe
    Store poisons out of the reach of children and properly label. Secure loose rugs and keep children's play areas free from hard or sharp surfaces. Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and keep fire extinguishers on hand.

  4. Keep it Well-Ventilated
    Ventilate bathrooms and kitchens and use whole house ventilation for supplying fresh air to reduce the concentration of contaminants in the home.

  5. Keep it Pest-free
    All pests look for food, water, and shelter. Seal cracks and openings throughout the home; store food in pest-resistant containers. If needed, use sticky-traps and baits in closed containers, along with least toxic pesticides such as boric acid powder.

  6. Keep it Contaminant-free
    Reduce lead-related hazards in pre-1978 homes by fixing deteriorated paint, and keeping floors and window areas clean using a wet-cleaning approach. Test your home for radon, a naturally occurring dangerous gas that enters homes through soil, crawlspaces, and foundation crack. Install a radon removal system if levels above the EPA action-level are detected.

  7. Keep your home Maintained
    Inspect, clean and repair your home routinely. Take care of minor repairs and problems before they become large repairs and problems.

  8. Thermally Controlled
    Houses that do not maintain adequate temperatures may place the safety of residents at increased risk from exposure to extreme cold or heat.


MORE RESOURCES

How to Keep a Healthy Home

Healthy Homes Youth App

 

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors controls a $6 billion budget and makes critical decisions about health, housing, air quality, and toxic pollution in our communities. In 2020, residents of Barrio Logan, Logan Heights, Sherman Heights, National City and the rest of San Diego County District 1 will be electing a new supervisor for the first time in almost a quarter of a century.

On May 31, 2019, EHC partnered with ACCE, Engage San Diego and the Invest in San Diego Families Coalition to host a public forum and hear from the declared supervisor candidates on how they would address critical issues facing communities in District 1.

Watch the full Facebook Live video recording of the Candidate's Forum:

The following declared candidates were in attendance at the forum:

  • Sophia Rodriguez
  • Nora Vargas
  • Raphael Castellanos

Ben Hueso, the only other declared candidate on May 31, was unable to attend the forum due to his current commitments as State Senator, which required him to be in Sacramento. He sent a short video clip in which he outlined some of the key elements of his campaign.

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Based on the over 150 residents packing the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center in National City last Wednesday, it’s clear EHC members and residents of District 1 want their voices heard in holding this office accountable. A group of community members had the opportunity to ask the attending candidates to respond to the following questions:


AIR POLLUTION: Philomena Marino
District 1 contains the region’s hot spots for diesel and particulate pollution. It includes the world’s busiest border crossing, the Otay truck crossing, the 905 and 5 freight corridors, the Port cargo terminals, heavy industry at the waterfront, and smaller industries. It includes the communities that rank highest in the region on CalEnviroScreeen, the state’s tool for identification of the most impacted communities.

Q. What will you do to improve air quality for the residents and workers in District 1?


COUNTY BUDGET AND RESERVE: Tammy Jackson
The County of San Diego controls a budget of over $6 Billion, and they have budget reserves of over 50% of their annual revenue, which is almost $2 billion dollars.

Q. If elected would you spend the reserves and if so, how would you prioritize those expenditures?


HEALTH: Maria Teresa Goodman
District 1 corresponds closely to the County’s HHS South region. The South region has numerous health challenges, with higher rates of several important conditions. Such examples as higher rates of Coronary Heart Disease and stroke hospitalization, higher rates of Diabetes hospitalizations, and higher rates of pulmonary disease.

Q. What will you do to reduce the environmental, economic, and social justice factors that contribute to this disparity in health outcomes?


HOUSING: Barbara Pinto
The most recent homeless count in the county is over 8100 individuals.

Q. With the housing crisis getting worse, what are some of your policy ideas to protect and preserve existing housing, and to produce new housing?


 CLIMATE JUSTICE: Roddy Jerome
District 1 represents communities most impacted by climate change.

Q. What specific changes would you make to the County’s Climate Action Plan to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions? Within your answer please say what role should the County have in advancing mass public transit?


COUNTY SERVICES: Enrique Zapata

The county has underinvested in staff in key areas such as social workers, behavioral health, eligibility workers, public health nurses and many others.

Q. What you would do to assure proper services are provided in these areas and other county departments?


 

Finally, the candidates were asked a series of rapid-fire questions with the options to choose yes, no, or give a 15-second explanation.

D1 Question Chart Page 1
(Click image above to view the questions in a PDF document)


Photos and videos from the Candidate Forum:

D1 Candidate's Forum

Posters on Gentrification and Resistance

On April 26, EHC and City Heights CDC co-hosted an exhibition of posters on gentrification and resistance. Produced across the world over the last 60 years, the posters are powerful visual testaments to the ongoing resistance against gentrification, displacement, and homelessness. The Spanish caption on one poster translates, “Every human being deserves a decent home.” The right to live, work, and play in a safe, healthy and equitable community is a central tenet of EHC’s work in City Heights and across the region, #HealthyHoods #HereToStay

Check out the posters!

Reclaim Book

 

Select pictures from the April 26 event:

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Reclaim! Remain! Rebuild! was funded by The California Endowment, California Arts Council, City of Los Angeles, Department of Cultural Affairs, with additional support from the Getty Grant Program, and the Los Angeles County Arts Commissio

The American Planning Association (APA) selected EHC’s Policy Director, Carolina Martinez to receive their 2019 National Planning Excellence Award for Advancing Diversity & Social Change. The award is a testament to Carolina’s commitment and the resolve of community members such as Lorena Chavez and Adriana Mecina to advance the Paradise Creek housing development project in National City.

From educating community members to identifying funding and partnership opportunities, Carolina worked alongside of the resi-dents to ensure a community-driven process that resulted in Paradise Creek, a 201-unit, affordable housing complex on a remediated brownfield site. #healthyhoods

Environmental Health Coalition worked closely with the non-profit affordable housing organization, Community Housing Works, to bring fiscal resources, housing expertise and community priorities together to make the project possible.

Read the full press release

 

Carolina received the award at the annual APA conference on April 15, 2019 in San Francisco:

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Wendy Shabay, AICP, 2019 Awards Jury Chair is in the photo together with Carlton Eley.

Photos courtesy of APA, photo by The Photo Group.