Loyola University Chicago

Healthy Homes & Healthy Communities

Chicago Community Area initiatives

The Loyola University Civitas ChildLaw Center's Policy Institute, in partnership with the University of Illinois, the Chicago and Cook County Public Health Departments, the Metropolitan Tenants Organization of Chicago, and local leaders from five-high risk Chicago area communities, convened the Community Summit on Lead Poisoning Prevention and Healthy Homes in September 2009. The Summit brought together residents and leaders from five high-risk communities to learn about lead poisoning prevention and healthy homes and to work together to address the problem. The five participating communities are: Austin, Cicero, Englewood, Humboldt Park, and Lawndale.

The challenge for the 2009 Summit was to engage some of the communities with the highest levels of childhood lead poisoning to find ways to address the problem when financial resources are limited and other serious problems in these communities compete for attention and resources. The Community Summit Partners created strategic plans with individualized community-based objectives, strategies, and outcomes. These efforts are on-going.

Below are each community's actions steps:

Austin Community Action Steps

  • Establish "Collaborative for a Lead-Free Austin," a community benefit covenant with a clear vision and defined roles and responsibilities of participating partners.
  • Develop a pilot initiative that targets vulnerable families for home visits and case management and/or targeting pregnant women for outreach.
  • Link the eradication of lead poisoning and creation of healthy housing to job creation.
  • Engage Austin youth in the pilot initiative and train youth teams, under adult supervision, to recognize possible lead exposure in homes and educate families on prevention measures and available resources, including financial assistance, to eliminate lead hazards in the home.
  • Hold ongoing meetings to develop pilot project.

These action steps are being coordinated by Westside Health Authority.

Cicero Community Action Steps

  • Send information on lead poisoning and lead prevention out to every family when school registration forms are sent.
  • Work with Cook County Department of Public Health to get the word out about grants to help property owners fix their properties.
  • Present information to the next Youth Task Force meeting and incorporate lead poisoning information into early childhood presentations.
  • Present a workshop to landlords and give a "gold standard/seal of approval" for meeting certain criteria.
  • Host meetings at the local churches on lead poisoning in the community.
  • Plan for and convene Cicero's Summit on Lead for 2010.

These action steps are being coordinated by Corazón Community Services.

Englewood Community Action Steps

  • Assign three members to organize attendance at each of the community meetings held by aldermen in Englewood and promote lead on the agenda.
  • Ask pastors to assign one church member to represent lead and attend one meeting per month.
  • Ask churches to put childhood lead poisoning information in their bulletins.
  • Ask pastors to put lead-awareness messages into their sermons once a month.
  • Formulate incentives to encourage parents to get their children tested. Provide parents with information on reasons to test, where to get testing, and when to have the child tested.
  • Work with Englewood Housing Task Force to develop a database of landlords in the community for targeted outreach to provide information about lead and their responsibilities under the 2006 Lead Poisoning Prevention Act.
  • Invite young people, pastors, a representative from the aldermen's office, a representative from Kennedy King College, and a lead inspector from the City Department of Public Health to the next Town Hall Meeting for a discussion of the problem of lead poisoning in Englewood.

These action steps are being coordinated by Imagine Englewood If….

Humboldt Park Community Actions Steps

  • Establish a lead poisoning prevention Task Force for Humboldt Park.
  • Train Youth Action Teams for door-to-door campaign for lead poisoning prevention and awareness.
  • Make lead a priority initiative for the already established Communities of Wellness.

These action steps are being coordinated by Near Northwest Neighborhood Network.

Lawndale Community Action Steps

  • Coordinate case managers/home visitors from community agencies that address health issues such as asthma and support for new mothers to incorporate lead prevention information into their health outreach. Provide these agencies with a standardized training. Integrate Healthy Homes initiatives into current lead poisoning outreach and home visits.
  • Contact decision makers: ask local aldermen to put childhood lead poisoning prevention on the agendas for the aldermen's community meetings.
  • Put lead poisoning information into local media outlets, such as the Hispanic Coalition newsletter, the Lawndale Christian Newsletter and the local AM radio station.
  • Provide lead poisoning awareness information at local health fairs and community events.
  • Target landlords and identify those eligible for the city's financial assistance to fix the lead hazards in their buildings.
  • Educate health care providers through outreach to health centers in the community.
  • Explore possible partnerships with organizations that are sponsoring green events and community gardens in vacant lots to promote lead-safe gardens and healthy and fresh foods.

These action steps are being coordinated by Lawndale Christian Health Center.