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Montefiore News Releases

June 11, 2015

Community Collaborative Selected by National Program BUILD Health Challenge
as One of 18 Partnerships Across the Country to Receive Fund­­ing 

NEW YORK (June 11, 2015) – Montefiore Health System, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition, in collaboration with other local partners, have been awarded $250,000 by the B­­UILD Health Challenge to implement the Bronx Healthy Buildings Program. The new initiative will target deteriorating housing conditions in the Northwest and Central Bronx, with the goal of reducing hospitalizations due to asthma, while reducing energy consumption, creating green jobs and ensuring housing affordability. 

Residents in the Williamsbridge, Fordham, Bedford Park, Belmont, East Tremont, and Morrisania sections of the Bronx suffer from disproportionately high rates of asthma and asthma hospitalizations, emergency room visits, and missed school and work days. It is believed that poor housing conditions contribute to the high rates of asthma and associated hospitalizations in these areas. These health problems are compounded by poverty and low health literacy. 

The $250,000 grant will be used by the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition (NWBCCC) in collaboration with other partners, who also include BlocPower, the Emerald Cities Collaborative, and New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, to improve substandard housing by conducting building inspections, identifying homes in need of repair and retrofitting these buildings to improve indoor air quality and energy efficiency. The funds will also support the recruitment and training of Community Health Workers who will deliver tenant and landlord education on asthma self-management and coordinate education campaigns for at-risk families and individuals. 

“At Montefiore we pride ourselves on providing the best clinical care for our patients, but we also recognize the importance of addressing the everyday factors that impact our patients’ health,” said Marina Reznik, M.D., M.S., attending physician, Division of General Pediatrics, Department of Pediatrics, Children’s Hospital at Montefiore, and associate professor of Pediatrics, Albert Einstein College of Medicine. “Working together with our community partners, we plan to tackle the conditions that affect asthma in the place where sufferers spend much of their time: at home. We will implement interventions to improve housing conditions, improve health, and reduce the costs associated with frequent and preventable hospitalizations.” 

The two year, community-based program, which will receive additional support from Montefiore, will focus on multi-family buildings that house low-income residents, who may not have the means or ability to improve their living conditions. Common issues in these buildings are the presence of rodents and cockroaches, which are both well-known asthma triggers. Accordingly, the Bronx Healthy Buildings Program will implement safe pest control interventions to address this problem. Additionally, the program will use energy savings to finance building upgrades while lowering overall costs for landlords and tenants.  

“Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition works to develop visionary leadership and build community power by addressing root causes of the issues that we see in our community,” said Sandra Lobo, local community member and president of the NWBCCC board. “Healthy Buildings will promote energy efficiency and holistic community health while addressing rising housing costs and creating local jobs.” The Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition is a 40-year-old grassroots, member-led organization that works to transform the northwest Bronx. 

“Inequality is a profound challenge affecting our city, including our health care system and the many factors that promote and ensure health in our communities. The key to eliminating health disparities is in our ability to address the social determinants of health. The Bronx Healthy Buildings Program is an inspiring project that will demonstrate how we can change systems to improve health in our city,” said Dr. Jane Bedell, Assistant Commissioner for the Bronx District Public Health Office.

The BUILD Health Challenge is designed to accelerate collaborative approaches among local non-profit organizations, hospitals and health systems to address the social and environmental determinants of health. Founded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, the de Beaumont Foundation, the Advisory Board Company, and the Colorado Health Foundation, the BUILD Health Challenge selected 18 groundbreaking projects all across the nation that aim to improve health in low-income communities. BUILD projects include Bold, Upstream, Integrated, Local, and Data-driven approaches to address social and environmental factors that have the greatest impact on health. Working in close partnership with the awardees, the BUILD Health Challenge will also identify and disseminate the most promising models of population health improvement to stimulate these kinds of initiatives in other U.S. communities.

The Bronx Healthy Buildings Program partners were honored at the BUILD Health Challenge Award Ceremony June 9 in Washington, DC by Karen DeSalvo, MD., the Acting Assistant Secretary for Health in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the five funding organizations.