The Healthy Homes Task Force held its fourth public Zoom meeting on Tuesday, where members identified potential issues and solutions with its health home grant program.
The task force is made up of officials from multiple agencies, including the Oregon Health Association, Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, and Oregon Habitat for Humanity, among others. The task force met after the establishment of House Bill 2842 in the 2021 legislative session. Its primary goal is to develop tools and information about housing-related services, programs, and other resources and home-related issues throughout the state of Oregon.
During Tuesday’s meeting, task force members stressed the importance of ensuring the program can meet the needs of Oregon residents and the legislature.
“The legislature has expectations of what this program can and cannot do. said Gabriela Goldfard, a member of the nursing home task force. “What you’re describing in terms of barriers or systemic issues, some of which might be able to do something about…will help us and them understand what’s realistic.” Goldfard is also the head of the OHA’s Environmental Public Health Section.
Subsidy funding and legal hurdles between tenants and landlords were just two of the issues discussed at Tuesday’s meeting. The task force also noted that every tenant and landlord is different, which is why it is important that the subsidy program be flexible.
“This program needs to be flexible to allow that kind of diversity to meet that need,” said Charity Fain, member of the Health Homes Task Force and executive director of the Community Energy Project. “The complexity of the rental market means the program must allow for flexibility and solutions that are allowed under the grant.”
After identifying potential problems and solutions for the grant program, the working group took the time to outline its main objectives.
“These include a central focus on health and health outcomes,” said Ben Duncan, member of the Healthy Homes Task Force and partner at Kearns & West. “These include directing to address racial disparities, focusing on those most impacted by the environmental risks associated with housing and as we have continually increased to ensure our solutions work for tenants.”
The next meeting of the working group is scheduled for December 15. A link to the public Zoom meeting is available online.