EveryStep Awarded Federal Grant to Protect Children and Families from Home Health Hazards

EveryStep today announced it has been awarded a $2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to make hundreds of central Iowa families’ homes safer. The grant money will help identify and address health hazards or asthma triggers in the homes of low-income families with children, and safety risks for senior Iowans who are living at home, known as “aging in place.”

“This grant will truly enable a ‘boots on the ground’ effort,” said EveryStep president and CEO Tray Wade. “From mold remediation, and bathroom and dryer venting to remove childhood asthma triggers, to installing handrails and grab bars to improve safety for seniors, this funding will be used almost entirely to directly assist individuals and families in making their homes safer from health hazards.”

Through several unique partnerships and financial commitments, another $1.5 million will be added to the $2 million federal grant, for a total of $3.5 million available through EveryStep’s Healthy Homes Iowa program.

“The Polk County Housing Trust Fund was proud to help catalyze the initial Healthy Homes effort in our community back in 2015,” said Eric Burmeister, executive director of the Polk County Housing Trust Fund.  “We believe firmly that safety and stability in housing are key social determinants of health. We excited that our community is continuing this work to make sure everyone has a place to live and thrive.”

The partnership of many organizations in central Iowa greatly increases the available funding to directly help families in need of health and safety improvements in their home. Mid-Iowa Health Foundation is among the key supporters of the initiative. “Healthy Homes Iowa is a critical way to support families with limited access to quality housing in providing a safe environment for their children to grow. Mid-Iowa Health Foundation has been a long-time champion of this initiative, and we are grateful to see this opportunity expand to more families with the addition of federal funding support,” said Nalo Johnson, PhD, president and CEO of Mid-Iowa Health Foundation.

Funding from the grant will be targeted to Polk County. “Polk County has done a lot of great work in our community in reducing childhood exposures to lead based paint but we know there is a long way to go still. We are thankful to have partners, like Every Step, who will be providing leadership in this critical work,” said Polk County Board of Supervisors chair Angela Connolly. “This project is a terrific example of how we’ve been able to strategically invest American Rescue Plan Act funds into local initiatives that are able to leverage millions of additional federal dollars. This is a terrific partnership and I am so proud of all the partners involved and our community.”

The Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines is another partner whose involvement is key to the success of the initiative. “The Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines is proud to have leveraged critical dollars in support of EveryStep’s receipt of this transformational HUD grant. The Healthy Homes program is a critical piece in addressing systemic challenges faced by those in our community living with respiratory and other illness. This is a proactive and forward-thinking approach to address the health of our community,” said Angie Dethlefs-Trettin, chief community impact officer.

UnityPoint Health – Des Moines has partnered with EveryStep in several initiatives, including Healthy Homes, to improve patient and family access to community resources addressing social determinants of health. “The expertise of EveryStep’s team for this grant and our ongoing partnership with them will enable us to collectively improve the safety and healthy home environment for central Iowa’s most underserved families,” said Sid Ramsey, vice president of strategic business development at UnityPoint Health – Des Moines. “Healthy Homes proposes a comprehensive approach to establish healthy home environments for children with asthma, prevention of childhood injuries in the home and prevention of unintentional falls for older adults through home modifications, education and support.  With EveryStep’s coordination, UnityPoint Health is excited to collectively improve the safe and healthy home environments for central Iowa families.”

Because of EveryStep’s existing programs and established partnerships, it is expected identified families and individuals will begin receiving assistance by mid-year. 

Key partners in securing the federal grant include Polk County Housing Trust Fund, Mid-Iowa Health Foundation, Polk County Health Department, Polk County Board of Supervisors, Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines, Polk County Public Works, UnityPoint Health – Des Moines, Broadlawns hospital, Green & Healthy Homes Initiative and F&G. These and other partners will also help identify individuals and families in need of assistance.

The Healthy Homes program initially focused on working with families to identify and reduce triggers related to pediatric asthma. To learn about the history of the Healthy Homes initiative and its past and present partners, visit https://www.everystep.org/provider-resources/healthy-homes.  

EveryStep is a health care and human services non-profit organization offering programs that reach every county in Iowa. Its mission is to empower individuals, support families and strengthen communities. EveryStep offers a broad menu of care and empowerment services when Iowans face life’s most difficult moments. The organization’s more than 30 programs provide prenatal support, baby supplies and education to young moms; developmental screenings throughout early childhood; health navigation to immigrants and refugees; wellness services to low-income communities, school employees and businesses; in-home care to people who are ill, injured or facing the end of life; and compassionate support to families and individuals during times of grief and loss. Learn more at www.everystep.org.