Grants Awarded to Make Housing in Chicago Healthier

July 12, 2011

An anti-smoking group is providing tens of thousands of dollars in grants to create more smoke-free Chicago real estate.

The Chicago Tobacco Prevention Project has created the Piloting and Promoting Smoke-free Homes initiative in an effort to increase the amount of smoke-free apartment buildings and condominiums in Chicago and to decrease the smoking rate and exposure to secondhand smoke.

According to the group, smoke-free housing not only protects tenants from the dangers of secondhand smoke — including an increased risk of heart attacks, stroke, lung cancer and early death — but it also decreases unit damage and reduces the turnover costs associated with smoky units.

“Most of the air in an apartment or condo comes from the building’s common areas and other units, so if your neighbor smokes, you are breathing in their smoke,” said Joel Africk, president and CEO of Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago.

“We believe everyone deserves to breathe smoke-free air, whether they live in subsidized housing or a luxury condo.”

no smoking signThe start-up costs of converting a building into a smoke-free environment can be costly, and that’s where the Piloting and Promoting Smoke-free Homes program comes into play.

Funding from the program can be used toward updating leases and other legal documents, educating residents and offering resources for tenants who want to quit smoking.

The first three groups that will receive a total amount of about $50,000 for the cause:

*Claretian Associates: The incorporation of smoke-free policies and smoking cessation resources will affect at least 45 families, including more than 100 children, in its Casa Kirk and Rehab South Chicago apartments.

*Institute of Cultural Affairs: This organization, which offers affordable housing, will adopt a smoke-free policy that will affect more than 70 single-occupancy residences at its Uptown location.

*Lakeside Community Development Corporation: This group will provide education on the benefits of smoke-free policies to condo associations, tenants and property managers in Rogers Park, Edgewater and West Ridge. The hope is to have 100 smoke-free units by February 2012.

The Chicago Tobacco Prevention Project could be issuing more grants in September.

There are also free resources available online, including a “toolkit” for adoption of smoke-free building policies and a registry of smoke-free homes.

Visit lungchicago.org for more information.

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