The Case for Smoke-Free Public Housing

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The Case for Smoke-Free Public Housing August 16, 2012 National Conference on Tobacco or Health

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The Coalition presented at the National Conference on Tobacco or Health in August 2012 on the case for smoke-free public housing in partnership with smoke-free housing advocates from Minnesota and Oregon

Transcript of The Case for Smoke-Free Public Housing

  • 1. The Case for Smoke-Free Public Housing August 16, 2012 National Conference on Tobacco or Health

2. Who we areThe Smoke-Free Housing Coalition of Maine is a non-profitorganization comprised of more than 50 public health advocates, tenants, landlords, property managers, environmental healthprofessionals, legal professionals and many others supporting andadvocating for voluntary smoke-free housing policies.An initiative of the Breathe Easy Coalition of Maine, funded by thePartnership For A Tobacco-Free Maine, Maine CDC/DHHS. 3. Breathe Easy, Youre in Maine Who has adopted a voluntary policies: 100% Public Housing Authorities 2 of 5 Tribal Housing Authorities 48% of Private Landlords/Property Managers Also: Secondhand smoke landlord disclosure law 1-pt incentive given for policy in Maines Low-IncomeHousing Tax Credit Program Application SF designation given on MaineHousings MUH Registry 4. What We Know about MUH and SHS There is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke. The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating & Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) says that the only means of effectively eliminating health risks associated with indoor exposure is to ban smoking activity. Smoking-related fires are the leading cause of residential fire deaths in the United States.US Surgeon General, 2010; ASHRAE, 2008; USFA, 2010 5. Why Should Property Owners/Managers Adopt 100% Smoke-Free Policies? Fire Danger Property Damage Turnover savings Insurance savings Happier & healthier tenants Liability 6. Smoke-Free Policies Save Money Studies have shown that unit turnover costs are 2-7 times more expensive when smoking was allowed in the unit. Some insurance companies will award discounts on comprehensive fire casualty plans for being 100% smoke-free. 7. But is Smoke-Free Housing Legal? Smoking is a personal choice and an addiction. There is no law that protects an individuals ability tosmoke. Smoking is not a legally protected activity. Nothing prevents a landlord or employer from prohibitingsmoking on property. 8. In fact Tenants negatively impacted by secondhand smokeactually have the right to seek legal actionagainst tenants or landlords who do not makeadequate provisions to protect them fromsecondhand smoke. Under American Disabilities Act and Fair HousingAct. 9. In fact Persons cannot be discriminated against inworkplaces, public places or in housing due todisability; severe breathing problems constitutes adisability. Facilities are required to provide reasonableaccommodations to persons with severebreathing disabilities, including possibly making thefacility totally smoke-free. 10. Growing Support for SFH 11. Growing Support for SFH: HUD 12. Who is going SF? Public and Tribal Housing Authorities Private Developments (both subsidized andmarket-rate) Mom and Pop landlords Condominium Associations Group Homes and Transitional HousingDevelopments Behavioral Health Facilities Nursing and Assisted Living Facilities 13. Smoke-Free Housing: A Changing NormWhere were we in 2000? Virtually no smoke-free apartments could be found inin the U.S. in market-rate or affordable housing Most apartment owners & many HUD officials thought it was illegal to have a smoke-free policy Many newspapers thought it was illegal to allow ads saying no smoking or SF Most tenants didnt realize they had some rights to smoke-free housing 14. Smoke-Free Housing: A Changing NormWhere are we now? Hundreds of thousands of units of market-rate and subsidized housing are smoke-free all across the U.S. Includes large, multi-state companies, moderate sized companies, small companies, and single-family home rentals. Public Housing Authorities Are Going Smoke-Free 2000: 3 PHAs nationally 2005: 32 PHAs nationally Today:300+ PHAs smoke-free nationallyin 27+ states 15. SF Public Housing in Maine2012: 100% of Maine PHAs are smoke-free 20 19 18 1814 11 7 2 12004200520062007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 16. Why the Focus on Public Housing? What is Public Housing? Publically-owned safe, quality, affordable housing for eligible low-income people, such as families, elderly, disabled and handicapped Who Lives in Public Housing? Residents are often low-income, people of color, recentimmigrants, chemically dependent, and/or mentally ill The percentage of nonsmokers exposed to secondhand smokecontinues to decrease BUT low-income persons are exposed atmuch higher rates:1999-2000 2007-08Below poverty level:71.6% 60.5%At/above poverty level: 48.8% 36.9% (CDC MMWR, September 2010) Creating smoke-free public housing authorities is agreat way to reduce this involuntary exposure tosecondhand smoke! 17. Tips for Connecting with PHAs Find your state, local and regional PHAs: ndian_housing/pha/contacts Connect with State Housing Authority attend partner meetings, exhibit & present at conferences. Build Allies in the subsidized housing industry turn those who are already smoke-free into your champions. Direct mail and earned media can be useful tools in gaining acceptance for SFH in your community. 18. SFH Policy Implementation Steps1. Make a plan. Start by creating a plan to make the entire residence smoke-free. Gather support/survey tenants. Do not grandfather tenants.2. Hold a Meeting. Explain benefits that a smoke-free building will bring them(safety and health). Gather with tenants to discuss the change. There may beresistance, but remember, non-smoking tenants have rights under theirleases, too.3. Inform Tenants. Review the legal information concerning your rights andyour tenants rights- be clear with them about the timeline & policy. Properlyprepare everyone keep it positive.4. Amend New Leases. Change the language of your lease to include your newsmoke-free policy. When new tenants sign on, your policy will be crystal clear.5. Promote Your Status. Begin advertising your smoke-free status to gain newtenants who appreciate a clean air environment. 19. For More Information Smoke-Free Housing Coalition of Maine [email protected] (207)874-8774 Like us on Facebook: View past presentations: