Environmental Justice Advocates Met with Elected Officials and Agency Heads in Nation’s Capital to Urge Continued Support for Healthier Homes 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 24, 2024

Contact: Ashley Sullivan
Ashley.Sullivan@weact.org

Environmental Justice Advocates Met with Elected Officials and Agency Heads in Nation’s Capital to Urge Continued Support for Healthier Homes 

WE ACT for Environmental Justice and advocates from across the country urged federal officials and Members of Congress to ensure the right to healthy homes for environmental justice communities 

WASHINGTON — WE ACT for Environmental Justice and advocates from across the U.S. gathered in Washington, D.C. this week to raise concerns by sharing stories and key research with policymakers at agencies and members of Congress including Representative Tonko (D-NY), Representative Bowman (D-NY) and Senator Markey (D-MA), emphasizing the urgent safety, health, and affordability challenges environmental justice communities face in their own homes every single day. This effort coordinated by WE ACT for Environmental Justice focuses on solutions to issues that impact environmental justice communities in public and affordable housing, including health hazards from fossil fuel appliances, lead, pests and mold, and the dire need to transition communities to clean, affordable, and equitable electric sources. WE ACT joined advocates dealing with similar critical issues including Midwest Building Decarbonization Coalition , PODER from Texas, Action in Montgomery from Maryland, South Bronx Unite from NYC, Partnership for Southern Equity from Georgia, and GreenRoots from Massachusetts to educate legislators and inform the development of policies and programs that center the lived experiences of residents in environmental justice communities. 

“Everyone, regardless of race or income, is entitled to a healthy home. Affordable and public housing residents, who are disproportionately Black and Hispanic, experience higher rates of asthma, exacerbated by pollutants from fossil fuel appliances and other health hazards including mold and lead.” said Dana Johnson, Senior Director of Strategy and Federal Policy at WE ACT for Environmental Justice. “We can reduce health disparities and help those most vulnerable by ensuring the electrification and weatherization of housing goes hand in hand with comprehensive upgrades and lead, mold, and pest remediation, so that our communities can thrive.”

Environmental justice communities— communities of color and low-income that experience adverse human health and/or environmental effects due to systemic prejudicial policies and underinvestment – often live with multiple sources of pollution and health hazards in addition to housing with a myriad of problems and deferred maintenance. This compounds high energy burden and harms of extreme heat caused by the climate crisis, exacerbating health hazards from lead exposure, gas leaks, asthma triggers like mold and pests, and indoor air pollution from fossil fuel appliances like gas stoves. WE ACT for Environmental Justice’s first of its kind report, “Out of Gas, In with Justice” showed that public housing residents were exposed to 190% higher average NO2 concentrations – a pollutant known to cause major respiratory harm – in kitchens with gas stoves than those with induction stoves when cooking a standardized meal.

In Washington, D.C., WE ACT and fellow advocates met with congressional leaders to explore possible policies that ensure a coordinated effort, programs, and funding for healthier housing focused on remedying indoor health hazards including lead and mold remediation, and pest removal, in tandem with weatherization, equitable energy efficiency upgrades, and electrification.  

About WE ACT for Environmental Justice 

WE ACT for Environmental Justice is a Northern Manhattan membership-based organization whose mission is to build healthy communities by ensuring that people of color and/or low-income residents participate meaningfully in the creation of sound and fair environmental health and protection policies and practices. WE ACT has offices in New York and Washington, D.C. Visit us at weact.org and follow us on Facebook, Twitter/X, and Instagram.

 

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