By Rachel Dissell

Novermber 22, 2017

Reposted from The Plain Dealer


CLEVELAND, Ohio – How does a family choose a rental home?

That’s what healthy homes advocates want to know.

Understanding the experiences of families who rent in Cleveland is the next step to learning how to provide renters with useful information on issues like asthma and lead poisoning that are overwhelmingly linked to substandard housing, according to Kim Foreman of the non-profit Environmental Health Watch.

The Healthy Homes Data Collaborative in September received a two-year, $250,000 grant from the national BUILD Health Challenge to figure out how to better use and make accessible data that could improve overall housing conditions in Cleveland, one of the poorest cities in the country.

That money, along with matching funds from University Hospitals and MetroHealth Medical Center, will pay for pilot efforts in the Glenville and Clark-Fulton neighborhoods. Those areas have some of the highest lead poisoning rates in the city, as well as other health challenges.

One of the ways the groups are gathering information is at three dinners for those who recently, in the past five years, have looked for rental housing.

The dinners, which will be facilitated by another non-profit partner, Digital C, will be at the following dates and locations in Cleveland:

  • Nov. 30, 5:30-8 p.m.
  • Location: Neighborhood Connections, 5000 Euclid Ave., Suite 310.
  • Childcare available: Yes
  • Dec. 5*, 5:30-8 p.m.
  • Location: Hispanic Alliance, 3110 W. 25th St.
  • Childcare available: No
  • *Facilitated in Spanish and English
  • Dec. 7, 5:30-8 p.m.
  • Location: Calvary Hill Church, 2765 Woodhill Rd.
  • Childcare available: Yes

Advance registration is required. Experiences shared at the dinners won’t be shared publicly.


An earlier grant from BUILD Health enabled Environmental Health Watch to work with Cleveland to begin to make health department information on homes with lead hazards public.

In May, Cleveland provided a way for citizens to search by address to see whether homes have known lead dangers or whether hazards have been cleaned up. The search site is the same one where building permits and housing code violations are listed.

Before that, there was nowhere a family could find out if the Cleveland home they were renting was a known lead hazard that had poisoned other children or whether such a danger had been properly fixed.

The behind-the-scenes effort dealt with getting computer systems in two different departments to talk to each other and creating a search tool for citizens to use.

Though the information is now technically available, city and community groups agree it could be made more accessible to Cleveland families.

Other groups involved in the project include:

Cleveland’s Public Health and Building and Housing departments, Case Western Reserve University’s Poverty Center, Metro West Community Development Corporation, Hispanic Alliance, Neighborhood Connections MetroHealth’s Center for Health Care Research and Policy and CWRUs Center for Reducing Health Disparities and Global Health Metrics LLC.