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The Washington Informer: The Air Inside the House: The Connection Between Our Homes and Asthma

December 12, 2022

Washington Interfaith Network’s Michelle Hall, right, watches a nitrogen dioxide monitor in her kitchen with fellow WIN organizer Sidra Siddiqui.

Every day we work with DC families whose kids have asthma or other serious health issues caused by unhealthy housing conditions like mold and pests. The District has the highest asthma prevalence of any U.S. city, with almost 16,000 children and adolescents experiencing asthma — and 70% of those kids are Black.

Washington Informer reporter Kayla Benjamin spoke with Children’s Law Center attorney Evan Cass to discuss the serious barriers many DC tenants, particularly those who depend on subsidized housing or vouchers, face when trying to address unhealthy housing conditions in their homes:

Pediatricians across the city have developed a partnership to help repeat asthma patients with unresponsive landlords: clinics can direct families to the Children’s Law Center, which provides pro bono legal resources to D.C. parents. 

So far this year, the Center has reached 1,700 children and families across hundreds housing conditions cases, according to communications director Allyson Boucher. More than 70 percent of those cases involved a child with asthma.

“We had a case just recently that we got an emergency hearing on: the child had been in the ER three times in the past two months. They had a mushroom growing out of their wall,” Evan Cass, a supervising attorney at CLC, said. “The landlord was told about the mold, and they came in and painted over it.”

Photo credit: The Washington Informer