A major upstream factor in improving health and well-being in Trenton is addressing housing conditions. More than half of all city housing was built pre-1940, and much of the rental housing is dilapidated, meaning indoor toxins such as lead, mold, and asthma triggers threaten health –especially for children.
Across recent school years, 15% of Trenton kindergartners entered school with elevated blood lead levels, making them 30% more likely to fail third-grade reading and math tests, and seven times more likely to quit school. And while just 23% of the county lives in Trenton, city residents account for 76% of asthma-related emergency department visits.
Changing this outcome for Trenton residents will require collaboration and community engagement.
Since our founding in 2006, Trenton Health Team (THT) has been harnessing the collective power of community partners to promote public health. Isles, Inc., a key partner in this project, is a founding Community Advisory Board member for THT and collaborates with us on projects enhancing quality of life across the city.
Drawing on the Trenton Health Information Exchange operated by THT and containing clinical records on 600,000 people, the expertise of Isles, and our network of service providers, we will uncover household environmental hazards, map “hotspots” of health issues related to housing conditions, identify residents in need of service and address their needs.
Interventions include sharing education about indoor health hazards and resource kits, referring individuals for lead abatement and healthy homes repairs, and care management services. We also will use lessons learned to develop policy recommendations focused on improved housing inspection and code enforcement.
Our efforts will create new data-sharing systems resulting in better, more efficient use of community resources to address upstream causes of health problems. Program participants will live in safer, healthier homes, know more about triggers for chronic conditions and require fewer urgent medical interventions. Longer-term outcomes will include improved housing stock, higher enforcement rates for code violations, and significant reductions in lead poisoning among Trenton’s children.
This partnership is an example of THT’s vision to move toward a more collaborative, data-driven and upstream approach to promoting health and well-being across Trenton.