Earlier this week, I was fortunate to join Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, U.S. Surgeon General Regina M. Benjamin and Dr. JudyAnn Bigby, Secretary of Health and Human Services for Massachusetts to talk about HUD’s efforts to promote health and prevent disease. This includes our work to encourage smoke-free housing. The event, at Boston’s Northeastern University, was one of many regional meetings being held around the country to promote the National Prevention Strategy (NPS). This strategic plan aims to make Americans healthier by bringing together leaders from 17 different departments, agencies, and offices across the Federal government who are committed to promoting disease prevention and wellness programs. After all, it’s about saving lives.
HUD is focused on creating Healthy and Safe Community Environments, one of the four strategic directions of the NPS. This includes promoting Tobacco Free Living by encouraging public housing agencies and multifamily owners and management agents to adopt smoke-free policies.
Our work in these areas will have a lasting and significant contribution to the health and wellbeing of residents of public and assisted housing in this country. We all know that good physical and mental health depends on a number of factors, including homes that are safe and from physical hazards. We also know that families thrive in neighborhoods that have good job opportunities, efficient transportation, decent schools and effective policing – all characteristics of HUD’s Choice Neighborhoods program.
Boston is among several housing authorities at the forefront of making its public housing completely smoke-free this year. I’m sure all of housing authorities that have gone smoke-free will admit it’s not an easy road to travel, but the destination – making public housing a healthier environment for residents – is worth the bumpy ride.