A recent health impact assessment in Oregon is helping low-income families replace substandard manufactured homes that can contribute to serious health risks.
In Curry County, along Oregon’s rugged southern coast, many families live in poverty, and 33 percent of county residents live in manufactured homes that have exceeded their intended lifespan. Forty percent of the county’s manufactured homes are substandard. Yet, manufactured and substandard housing did not qualify for replacement or repair assistance provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the State of Oregon.
When county officials recognized that families living in older manufactured homes were suffering more frequently from injuries like falls and from respiratory conditions such as asthma, they launched a health impact assessment to inform a proposed pilot project called the Housing Stock Upgrade Initiative. The initiative would provide lower-cost loans or other funds to make repairing or replacing a manufactured home more affordable to Curry County residents.
The HIA found that replacing older homes could significantly improve residents’ physical and mental health by improving the health and safety of their indoor environments. The HIA also identified opportunities for local hiring in the construction and repairs of the homes and to enable residents to age in place through new design standards.
The HIA's recommendations have yielded promising results:
- A strong coalition of state and local organizations are implementing the pilot project.
- Almost 3,000 Curry County residents may be eligible for financial assistance to replace their current manufactured homes.
- Manufactured housing builders are implementing new design standards.
The Curry County health impact assessment was one of two HIAs to be honored at the 2015 National Health Impact Assessment Meeting as part of an HIA recognition program aimed at highlighting the power of HIAs to support community well-being.
The HIA was conducted by Curry County, Oregon Health Authority, Upstream Public Health, and NeighborWorks Umpqua, with support from the Healthy Community Design Initiative in the National Center for Environmental Health at the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control.