Urban Environmental Program in New England
2010 Healthy Communities Grant Program
In 2010, EPA New England's Assistance & Pollution Prevention, Asthma, Children's Environmental Health, Clean Energy, Pesticides, Tools for Schools, Toxics, Tribal Compliance Assistance, Urban Environmental, and Wetlands Protection programs are partnering to identify competitive projects that will achieve measurable environmental and/or public health results.
"Water Resource Protection"
Project Partners: Water Pollution Control Authority, City of Bridgeport, CT Department of Environmental Protection
Summary: Approximately 85% of Bridgeport's sanity/storm sewer system is combined and directs water through the City's sewer treatment plants. Often times, storm water gets sent directly to waterways rather than treatment plants and during long periods of heavy rain, combined system water is released through overflow outlets into the Long Island Sound and other City waterways, contaminating them with untreated sewage and street water containing road and surface wastes such as oils, road salts, and fertilizers. This contamination causes shell fishing, fishing, and swimming to be prohibited. Groundwork Bridgeport is a nonprofit organization that works with young people on neighborhood clean up and beautification projects throughout Bridgeport, CT. This project seeks to increase stewardship practices that will improve the water quality of the Long Island Sound and Bridgeport, Connecticut waterways. Activities include training youth as water resource protection activists, educating residents and business owners about their role in protecting scarce water resources, hosting neighborhood meetings to engage neighborhood residents, and marking city drains in English and/or Spanish to indicate that they drain into the Long Island Sound and must be kept clean.
Measurable Results: Number of local residents trained as water resource protection activists; Number of neighborhood meetings; Number of residents & business community members participating in meetings; Number of city drains marked in English and/or Spanish
Bridgeport Public Schools
"Bridgeport Schools Recycling Pilot"
Partners: Bridgeport Board of Education, Connecticut Resources Rocvery Authority, B-Green 2020, City of Bridgeport Public Facilities
Summary: Although State mandated since 1991, an estimated 4% of Bridgeport's collected refuse is recycled, comparing poorly with Connecticut's statewide rate of 30%. Trash from Bridgeport and other local cities/towns is incinerated in a facility in Bridgeport, releasing emissions locally. Ozone levels and incidences of asthma are also high. This project seeks to increase paper recycling in order to reduce solid waste incineration, ultimately improving air quality for the City of Bridgeport. Activities include creating school recycling teams composed of custodial staff, students, teachers, parent volunteers, and school administrators to increase the capacity of two pilot schools in Bridgeport, Connecticut to improve recycling, educating youth and their families about recycling and its benefits. The pilot project will serve as a model to all other schools in Bridgeport.
Measurable Results: Number of recycling bins for classrooms and offices; Number of lectures & guest speaker presentations at schools; Increased recycling rates; Pounds of paper waste collected
Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice
"Showcase Showdown with Asthma:
Project Partners: Bridgeport Asthma Council, Bridgeport Health Department, Bridgeport Lead Free Families, Bridgeport Neighborhood Trust, Connecticut Department of Public Health
Summary: Twenty percent of city residents suffer from asthma in some neighborhoods of Bridgeport, Connecticut. Those rates are more than twice the national average and three times the state average. Bridgeport also has the third highest number of people hospitalized for asthma in the state of Connecticut. Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice works to promote fair and meaningful involvement of Connecticut's urban residents in environmental policies that effect where they live, play, and work by providing education to the community and promoting individual, corporate, and governmental responsibility toward Connecticut's city environments. This project seeks to motivate Bridgeport residents to be more aware of environments that trigger asthma and lead poisoning, to engage in proper asthma self-management, and to help themselves, neighbors, and families seek medical treatment for asthma or lead poisoning. Activities include hosting an asthma community fair, convening city organizations working on asthma and lead poisoning prevention to develop a Healthy Homes program, and promoting the implementation of Tools for Schools in Bridgeport Public Schools.
Measurable Results: Number of families participating in the Healthy Homes program; Number of community residents educated through asthma fairs, Number of schools implementing Tools for Schools
Brass City Harvest
"School Cafeteria Waste Stream Reduction and Composting Program"
Partners: Children's Community School of Waterbury
Summary: Twenty-eight public schools and twelve parochial and private schools comprise the Waterbury School District. The Waterbury School District has no program to address waste stream reduction of cafeteria and household organic waste through the composting process. All schools have functional cafeterias or lunch rooms and all rely on municipal or private solid waste haulers to collect refuse daily or weekly and bring it to either the Hartford-based trash-to-energy plant or landfill. Brass City Harvest is a nonprofit urban agricultural and human services organization working to establish a community food system in the City of Waterbury, CT. This project seeks to establish a cafeteria waste stream reduction program by implementing a recycling and composting program of cafeteria waste. Project activities include training summer school students in composting and environmental science, introducing "Captain Compost" to work with children to encourage home composting and recycling, and conducting classroom composting experiments.
Measurable Results: Number of compost kits purchased and utilized in classroom curriculum; Number of students engaged in waste stream reduction program; Number of pounds or organic cafeteria waste delivered to Fulton Compost Farm; Amount of cubic yardage of compost created; Number of student demonstrations held; Number of visits by "Captain Compost"
Maine Indoor Air Quality Council
"Weatherization Plus Health: Ensuring Healthy Indoor Air Quality During Low-Income Weatherization & Energy Retrofits"
Partners: MaineHousing, Aroostook County Community Action Program, Waldo County Community Action Program, Maine Radon Section, Maine Department of Environmental Protection, Maine Asthma Council
Summary: Weatherization efforts in Maine limit their scope to the reduction of unplanned air leakage and improving the thermal performance of the building envelope. These same weatherization efforts can adversely impact the indoor air quality in a home, creating conditions that put occupant health at risk, especially if the occupant is a child, is elderly, or suffers from asthma. The Maine Indoor Air Quality Council is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote quality of life through improved indoor environments. In 2009, they developed a draft Protocol and companion checklist to assist weatherization professionals in evaluating homes for indoor air quality problems prior to weatherization, correcting IAQ problems as part of the project, and preventing the creation of IAQ problems where none previously existed. This project seeks to field test the protocol and checklist in 50% of the low-income weatherization projects in Aroostook and Waldo Counties, with the goal of developing a workable model. Use of the protocol is expected to achieve healthy, energy efficient, more affordable housing for disadvantaged populations in Maine. Project activities include creating a webinar and training Aroostook and Waldo County personnel, field testing while implementing the protocols in 50% of projects, revising the protocols/checklist based on the results of the field tests and data analysis, and developing a strategic plan for future protocol/checklist implementation by MaineHousing.
Measurable Results: Number of webinars held; Number of weatherization personnel trained; Number of projects implementing the protocol; Collection of health, building, and cost data.
Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety & Health
"Asthma Prevention through Healthy Schools Initiative"
Partners: Massachusetts Asthma Advocacy Partnership (MAAP), Self Help Inc./Greater Brockton Asthma Coalition (GBAC), Brockton Education Association (BEA)
Summary: Many Massachusetts schools suffer from lack of maintenance causing inadequate ventilation, moisture and mold problems, and pest infestations. Poor building conditions can negatively affect the learning and work environments of our children and school staff. Environmental asthma triggers, respiratory illnesses and other serious health conditions are increasingly associated with the school environment. The Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health is a nonprofit membership organization that promotes healthy workplaces and communities in eastern Massachusetts through education, coalition building, and advocacy. This project seeks to build on the achievements of year one through the engagement of the Greater Brockton Asthma Coalition and statewide stakeholders to (1) expand upon the knowledge, resources, and relationships developed to reduce asthma and improve asthma management and (2) utilize useful tools developed to promote concrete actions – including investigating and eliminating environmental triggers in schools and homes and documenting the lessons and strategies across communities to expand institutional and community capacities to achieve environmental health. Activities include engaging Greater Brockton stakeholders and the Healthy Schools committee to promote policies and practices recommended in year one, forming new school Environmental Wellness Teams, introducing the Easy Breathing Program at two health centers in New Bedford and Brockton, recruiting families to participate in the Healthy Homes Program, and increasing the effectiveness and engagement of stakeholder participation from urban communities.
Measurable Results: Number of meetings; Number of school Environmental Wellness Teams formed; Number of medical providers, clinic staff, and school nurses introduced to the Easy Breathing Program; Number of families participating in Healthy Homes Program
JSI Research & Training Institute
"Casas Sanad Ninos Sanos"
Partners: Centro de Apoyo Familiar, Center of Assistance to Families, Asociacion de Ministros Evangelicos de Lawrence
Summary: Children's health is particularly at risk from exposures inside their homes. The majority of Lawrence's housing consists of wood frame multiple family dwellings built in the early 1900s. Multiple families occupy units originally built for single families and 68% of the housing stock is rental property, limiting the control that renters have over their indoor environments. JSI Research & Training Institute is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve the health of underserved populations. This project seeks to build the capacity of the Centro de Apoyo Familiar (CAF) and the Asociacion de Ministros Evangelicos de Lawrence (AMEDAL) to engage and support Lawrence's Latino residents in identifying, understanding, and taking action to reduce environmental health threats to children. Project activities include developing training programs for CAF, modifying a training program for community residents, assembling a library of environmental health information (asthma, lead poisoning, and household pesticides and chemicals), and conducting home assessments.
Measurable Results: Number of trainings held, Number of people trained; Amount of environmental health materials in English and Spanish; Number of home assessments; Number of action plans established; Number of volunteers taking action to reduce environmental exposures
"Cultivating a Healthier Lawrence"
Partners: City of Lawrence Community Development Department, University of Massachusetts' Extension Nutrition Education Program, Lawrence CommunityWorks, Bread and Roses Housing, and Lawrence Council on Aging Senior Center
Summary: A recent survey by the Trust for Public Lands found that Lawrence has the least amount of open space per resident in the state and the city was identified by the Forest Service as 8th out of 351 city and towns in MA in need of tree planting. Compounding these challenges are a perceived and real lack of safety on streets and in parks, which keeps residents from walking or otherwise recreating in the public realm, despite its dense development patterns that normally would encourage walkability and outside socializing. Likewise, limited economic resources, cultural norms and habits, and limited grocery store access within city limits, have yielded a widespread reliance on fast, high sodium, and non-perishable processed food. Combined, these factors yield dangerously high rates of significant health issues—such as obesity, Type II diabetes, and heart disease. Groundwork Lawrence has been making change happen in Lawrence, MA since 2001. Through its environmental and open space improvements, youth education and employment initiatives, community food programs, community programming and events, GWL creates the building blocks of a healthy community, and empowers residents to improve their quality of life. This project seeks to develop a growing community garden network in Lawrence, MA, educating gardener-residents about the health risks posed by cultivating produce in urban soils, as well as ways to avoid and/or minimize exposure. Project activities include developing and providing educational materials and workshops on the benefits of not using pesticides, reducing waste through composting, and conserving water through permaculture growing practices.
Measurable Results: Number of articles written & distributed; Number of workshops held; Number of gardeners relocating; Increased understanding of health risks
"Barnraising & Education for Waltham Energy Lowering/Healthy Homes"
Partners: Brandeis University, Waltham Energy Action Committee, HEET
Summary: There are many families in Waltham who are living in sorely inefficient homes, and struggling to pay wasteful energy bills. Low-income families lack the funds for major changes such as new insulation, and are often intimated, especially if their first language is not English, in taking advantage even of free weatherization services. Founded in 1988, WATCH works towards a more just community in the Waltham area by creating and promoting affordable housing, providing adult education, and leadership development, and empowering underrepresented residents through civic engagement. This projects seeks to provide weatherization services, trains a wide range of Waltham community members in simple, low-cost techniques for reducing home energy and resource use and engages them to implement those techniques. Project activities include hosting barnraising events, engaging and educating community members on energy efficiency activities, teaching them simple duplicable weatherization skills, training individuals to be team leads for upcoming Barnraisings or Healthy Homes Mentors, and implementing Healthy Home actions in homes (installing rain barrels and/or recycling bins, obtaining nontoxic cleaning supplies).
Measurable Results: Number of homes weatherized; Number of residents affected; Reduction in annual energy use; Number of community members trained; Number of healthy home actions implemented; Number of rain barrels purchased; Number of recycling bins secured
Rhode Island Legal Services, Inc.
"New England Environmental Justice Forum"
Partners: Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice; Alternatives for Community & Environment
Summary: Most environmental justice groups across New England are focused on work in specific communities. However, the issues being worked on tend to occur across most environmental justice communities. The lack of a regular forum for those working on environmental justice issues to come together on a regular basis has been identified as one of the greatest needs. A second unmet need is the lack of legal resources available to environmental justice groups. Rhode Island Legal Services is the largest provider of free legal assistance on civil matters to local income Rhode Islanders and has strong relationships with several environmental justice advocates throughout New England. This project seeks to build the capacity of environmental justice groups from Bridgeport, Providence, Boston and other local communities to address environmental justice issues on a region wide basis and increase the availability of legal services. Project activities include convening a regional environmental justice work group, hosting an environmental justice summit, and organizing training workshops for civil legal aid providers.
Measurable Results: Number of trainings for civil legal aid providers; Number of organizations participating in the EJ Workgroup; Number of meetings to convene the Regional EJ Work Group; Number of participants at the EJ Summit
Health Resources in Action's Asthma Regional Council of New England
"Promoting Best Practices in Asthma Management"
Partners: New England State Asthma Programs, Asthma Regional Council Advisory Council
Summary: Adult and childhood asthma is a growing epidemic, with approximately 9.1% of children and 7.3% of adults in the U.S. alone with the disease. With appropriate proactive asthma care, nearly all hospitalizations, along with other urgent care and emergency room visits can be avoided. The Asthma Region Council (ARC) is a coalition of nearly 75 governmental, academic, health, and community organizations across New England that seeks to tackle environmental contributors to pediatric and adult asthma, with a special focus on the most sensitive and vulnerable populations. This project seeks to reduce health disparities, and promote environmental justice and health and safety of low-income and minority populations in New England by increasing the availability of asthma services. Project activities include analyzing billing codes and their impact on the delivery of recommended asthma services, hosting training sessions regarding the billing code analysis, disseminating three e-newsletters and updating resources on the ARC's website, hosting one region-wide ARC Council meeting, hosting a minimum of ten conference calls with the NE Asthma Programs, and hosting three ARC Advisory Committee meetings.
Measurable Results: Creation of a report on billing codes; Number of attendees at training sessions; Number of newsletters produced; Size of email distribution list, Number of website hits; Number of attendees at ARC meetings; Number of conference calls hosted.
Childhood Lead Action Project
"Up to Code Campaign"
Partners: Rhode Island Legal Services, Rhode Island Department of Health, Providence Department of Inspection & Standards, Roger Williams University Feinstein Institute for Legal Service
Summary: Childhood lead poisoning continues to be the number one environmental health threat to Providence's children. Of all the urban communities in Rhode Island, Providence has the most widespread lead poisoning problem. The City recognizes the severity of the issue and has taken its role in remediating lead hazards seriously, investing millions of dollars in lead hazard awareness and abatement efforts that have contributed to a decline in lead poisoning rates. One of the struggles the city has faced over the years has been gaining compliance from rental property owners whose units have been cited for lead and minimum code violations. Formed in 1992, The Childhood Lead Action Project works to eliminate childhood lead poisoning in Rhode Island through education, parent support, and advocacy. This projects seeks to bring more Providence properties into compliance with housing code, reducing the rate of childhood lead poisoning in Providence, engaging residents in local efforts to improve housing conditions, and significantly decrease the use of unsafe, illegal home renovation practices that are poisoning children and putting both workers and residents at risk. Project activities include raising awareness and concern among City staff about the health dangers posed by deteriorating properties and unsafe renovation practices, training staff on underutilized laws as creative enforcement mechanisms, creating a system for educating violators about training and financial assistance for compliance, training Department of Inspection and Standards staff on the essential aspects of the Lead Renovation, Repair, and Paining Rule and its implementation, providing outreach and education materials to contractors applying for building permits and providing information about legal responsibilities and lead-safe work practices to property owners.
Measurable Results: Number of trainings held; Number of people trained on the new EPA RRFP Rule; Number of systems and procedures created; Number of residents engaged; Increase in the number of certificates of conformance and lead-safe certificates issued to Providence properties; Reduction in lead poisoning incidence in 2011.