Healthy Androscoggin is one of only nine organizations nationwide to receive a 2019 Lead Poisoning Prevention Grant. The award, part of the National Center for Healthy Housing’s Equipping Communities for Action initiative, will provide the community health-focused nonprofit with 18 months of coaching and support, including access to national experts, engagement in a peer learning network, a customized analysis calculating the cost of childhood lead exposure and the economic benefits of interventions, and a $25,000 cash award.
“This is an opportunity to accelerate the impact of our lead poisoning prevention work,” said Erin Guay, executive director of Healthy Androscoggin. “While Lewiston and Auburn still have the first and third highest numbers of Maine children under the age of 3 years who are poisoned by lead, respectively, these numbers have come down over time. This grant allows us to use the experience and skills of national experts so we can bring home tailored solutions that have the best chance of working here in the twin cities. These lessons will also be shared back with local and statewide partners.”
The bundled award will help further Healthy Androscoggin’s mission which is “to empower people to live healthy lifestyles and to improve the public health of the communities we serve through ongoing planning, community action, education and advocacy.” Healthy Androscoggin has been a regional leader in addressing issues of healthy housing, particularly the priority of lead poisoning prevention.
Healthy Androscoggin will use their new 2019 Lead Poisoning Prevention Grant to continue their childhood lead poisoning prevention work in Lewiston and Auburn. Within the broader mission of increasing the accessibility of healthy housing, HA will work with local community partners and decision-makers to establish the most impactful policy improvements. This will include creating strategies unique to each city, and focus on the economic and community development benefits of prevention.
Healthy Androscoggin is also coordinating a collaborative problem solving process, funded by the Environmental Protection Agency, which has brought together over 60 community members from diverse professional backgrounds to develop priorities and strategies to improve Lewiston’s housing stock. For example, local partners are researching incentives to increase owner occupancy in multi-unit housing. Through other funding sources, Healthy Androscoggin offers healthy housing classes for tenants and property owners and provides in-home resident education to families who live in units enrolled in Lewiston and Auburn’s HUD lead hazard control grant program. To date over 5,000 residents have received some form of education.
Partners supporting the initiative and enhancing guidance related to legal strategies, community leader engagement, cost analysis, and specific point sources of lead include representatives from Altarum, ChangeLab Solutions, Earthjustice, Environmental Defense Fund, and the National League of Cities.