Healthy Homes Des Moines (HHDSM) focuses on mitigating housing’s effects on asthma-impaired children. Its goal is to move upstream in asthma control—addressing environmental factors that make control harder and traditional treatments less effective. The project also builds institutional support for ensuring healthy living environments for asthma-impaired children elsewhere in Iowa by using data to make the case for the cost effectiveness of upstream interventions, securing third-party funding, adding legal recourses for tenants, and involving family support professionals in household environment improvement.


BUILD and its communities apply bold, upstream, integrated, local, and data-driven (BUILD) approaches to improve health in communities that are adversely affected by upstream factors.


HHDSM address three major, new system change efforts to expand asthma-related housing mitigation efforts: 1) third-party payment for home remediation and health education services; 2) recourse for tenants seeking asthma-related housing mitigation by strengthening housing inspections, local ordinances, and state law; and 3) integrate Iowa’s multiple family support efforts which identify housing triggers and help families address them.


HHDSM works upstream by pairing behavior change with improvements in the built environment. HHDSM approaches this issues farther upstream by improving housing enforcement so that asthma-impaired children do not live in unhealthy living environments in the first place.


HHDSM is a strong, formalized partnership of housing, health, and family service organizations. The primary responsibility for creating the project’s shared vision rests with its management committee, on which partner representatives serve. Partner roles are governed by legal agreements, such as Business Associate Agreements with the three participating hospitals maintain MOUs with service partners, such as Visiting Nurse Services of Iowa.


Since its launch, HHDSM has supported a grassroots style conversation to engage with and educate neighborhood residents and community leaders about the program. One example of this is using branded signs to place in the front yards of families who support and/or even benefited from the program.


All partner organizations receive quarterly data to help identify project needs, assess areas for improvement, and evaluate overall project successes. Data includes: demographic information; Home Assessment surveys (pre- and post); childhood asthma control tests (pre- and post)—all helping to assess how well HHDSM’s intervention has reduced asthma symptoms and their impact.