OLYMPIA – A bill to improve the health of Washingtonians passed out of the Senate yesterday on a 48-1 vote. House Bill 1720, sponsored by Rep. June Robinson, will help low-income families improve the health of their homes by including healthy housing projects in the existing low-income weatherization program.
“Making small changes to residences, such as fixing bathroom fans or removing moldy carpet, can have an enormous impact on the health and well-being of residents,” said Robinson. “While these projects are modest, there is a cost which puts these improvements out of reach for too many low-income families.”
The Low-Income Residential Weatherization Program uses public and private funds to provide low-income households with weatherization services to keep residences energy efficient, safe and affordable. Funds are available for projects like installing insulation and energy-efficient heating or repairing cracks and replacing windows.
House Bill 1720 will add projects that improve health and safety to the existing weatherization program.
“Educating people about healthy indoor environments can only get us so far,” Robinson said. “By actually making improvements in family homes, we can reduce asthma and other health issues and greatly improve the lives of the residents.”
There is an existing program in Bellingham, Washington that provides similar healthy housing improvements. The program was created through a federal government grant and is now privately funded. The preliminary results from the program show that the home improvement projects reduce the number of times children use inhalers, reduce visits to the emergency room, and reduce the use of Medicaid.
House Bill 1720 passed out of the House on March 10th with bipartisan support, 74-23. The bill now heads to the Governor’s desk for his signature.