[cleveland.com]

A partnership between the Cleveland Department of Public Health, the MetroHealth System, and the non-profit Environmental Health Watch has earned a $250,000 boost from a national funding collaborative to help pay for their work on lead abatement and asthma prevention in homes around the city’s Brooklyn Centre neighborhood.

The partnership is one of 18 recipients of the BUILD health challenge awards, presented this year for the first time by a group of five health-focused non-profit and consulting organizations. The grants, which totaled $2.6 million, were awarded to partnerships across the country to encourage collaboration in tackling community health issues.

The Cleveland project, called “Engaging the Community in New Approaches to Healthy Housing,” will target the Stockyards, Clark-Fulton and Brooklyn Centre neighborhoods, where residents have high rates of asthma, lead poisoning and COPD, a chronic breathing condition.

Almost half of the state’s lead-poisoned kids live in Cuyahoga County, and some neighborhoods have staggering rates. In the Brooklyn Centre neighborhood in 2012, about 18 percent of kids were poisoned, and about 3.2 percent had extremely high blood lead levels. Rates were even higher in the Stockyards neighborhood, where about 22 percent of kids tested high.

Nationally, about 2.6 percent of children have elevated blood lead levels, and only 0.8 percent have very high levels.

Lead poisoning, caused primarily through inhaled and swallowed dust from lead paint, as well as environmental exposure through water and soil, can have lifelong consequences for children. Lead exposure during early childhood can cause learning disabilities, neurobehavioral impairments and other developmental deficiencies.

In 2012, there were 14,500 asthmatic children and teens living in Cleveland, according to Environmental Health Watch. The group has been working with federal housing grants and local public health officials to prevent asthma attacks by cleaning up triggers in some of the city’s old housing — irritants like cockroaches, dust, mold and cigarette smoke.

The BUILD grant will help create a “healthy homes zone” in the neighborhood, which will include:

  • targeting properties likely to need remediation, conducting initial inspections and home assessments, and requesting city inspections;
  • Hospital and city housing authorities collaborating to identify families with asthma, COPD, and lead poisoning, and mapping areas likely to pose significant health hazards; and
  • Expanding on the asthma prevention program with home visits to high-risk patients in these neighborhoods.

For a full list of the BUILD grantees, check here. The funding organizations are The Advisory Board Company, the de Beaumont Foundation, the Colorado Health Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.