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It’s Time for Healthier and Safer Housing for all DC Residents

When a child lives in unhealthy housing, they are more likely to end up in the ER because their poor housing conditions trigger health issues like asthma. In fact, children with asthma in Wards 7 and 8 are twenty times more likely to end up in the ER for asthma than a child growing up in wealthier Ward 3 – many times as a result of their housing.

That’s why Children’s Law Center partners with organizations across the city to advocate for healthier housing so that all DC children have the safe housing they need to live healthy lives. We are especially pleased that our collaborative advocacy work has resulted in the establishment of a new DC agency, the Department of Buildings. We are now working to ensure this agency better serves District tenants and will continue to push for changes across all DC agencies that can improve healthier housing in the District.

The Dangers of Poor Housing on Health  

Time and again, we see that poor housing conditions harm the health of DC’s kids.

Through our medical-legal partnerships, Children’s Law Center attorneys are placed in neighborhoods where adverse housing conditions – and associated health problems – persist. Pediatricians, nurses and social workers in six community health centers turn to us to help them identify and resolve the root causes of their young patients’ health problems.

We see the same causes constantly – dangers like indoor mold, hazardous lead exposure and bedbug infestations. Unaddressed, prolonged exposure to these dangers result in health issues like chronic asthma and lead poisoning. Because these housing violations could be remedied before they cause harm, we advocated for years for the creation a tenant-focused agency that focuses on effective housing code enforcement. We have also pushed to increase the number of proactive inspections that can catch unhealthy housing issues before they impact a child’s health and advocated for changes that help tenants successfully resolve existing lead, mold, bedbug and pest issues.

Ensuring our DC Agencies Focus on Healthy Housing

In partnership with the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia, Legal Counsel for the Elderly and Bread for the City, Children’s Law Center successfully advocated for the establishment and funding of the Department of Buildings in 2022.

We are also members of the DC Healthy Housing Collaborative, and work with a number of other housing advocates who focus on helping more families access healthy, safe and stable housing.

Photo of Jurado family in their home.

It was while I was sick that the mold really started to grow in the boys' room and when they started to present rashes on their skin.”

-Mrs. Jurado, CLC Client The Jurado Family’s Fight for a Healthier Home