HCN News & Notes

Rep. Arriaga Introduces Bill to Ramp Up Healthy Homes Statewide

SPRINGFIELD — The Pioneer Valley Asthma Coalition (PVAC) is one of many coalitions led by the Public Health Institute of Western Massachusetts. Since 2014, PVAC has been leading collaborative efforts to address housing conditions that can cause or exacerbate asthma.

In 2017, PVAC partnered with Revitalize Community Development Corp. to create a local model for turning unhealthy homes into healthy homes. That model became what is now known as the award-winning DASHH program — Doorway to an Accessible, Safe and Healthy Home — and is led by Revitalize CDC.

Fast forward to 2023, and now there is a bill before the Massachusetts Legislature that would create a statewide version of DASHH. An Act Creating the Massachusetts Healthy Homes Program was introduced by state Sen. John Keenan, state Rep. Manny Cruz, and one of the newly elected officials in Western Mass., state Rep. Shirley Arriaga of Chicopee.

This new bill would provide grants and forgivable loans to eligible owner-occupants to address a multitude of health hazards (e.g. asbestos, mold, pests, lead) as well as conditions to improve energy and lower utility costs. Additionally, this bill would also increase coordination and leverage funding from existing home-repair programs.

Revitalize CDC is a partner with the Massachusetts Assoc. of Community Development Corporations, the organization leading the advocacy effort for this bill.