Overview of Worcester Healthy Homes Program
The Worcester Healthy Homes Program is the city based initiative to promote health and energy based housing development, renovation and repair to both owner occupied and investor owned properties. The city currently ranks as the 5th oldest housing stock in the country and has an estimated $1,000,000,000 in deferred maintenance issues (major systems-roof, heating, plumbing, code). Unlike the Metro Boston area which has seen extensive renovations and updates of properties to current building codes to the majority of its housing stock due to demand, a large majority of Worcester property owners have taken a band-aid approach to maintenance and renovations which has led to an uptick in housing related health issues including lead poisoned children, pediatric asthma (10 schools have 25% of students missing over 20 days/year with asthma related issues), elder falls and pest related health +issues. The City currently has a $3,700,000 in HUD Lead and Healthy Homes funding and as well a $6,000,000 Prevention and Wellness Trust Fund supporting this program.
The goal of Healthy Homes Program is to help owners through both funding and technical guidance better manage capital investment in their properties which will have a fivefold effect-
1. Decrease turnover rates of units due to unhappy/unhealthy tenants
2. Increase health of tenants which decreases public expenditures in public healthcare, schools and inspectional services .
3. Stabilize the neighborhood values of properties (currently in many neighborhoods, capital investment in property has little effect on property value)
4. Decrease the overall housing cost burden of tenants (rent + utilities + housing related health care costs)
5. Promote Worcester as an attractive affordable live/work city