For many members, the 2020 California Healthy Housing Coalition Annual Meeting was the last in-person meeting attended prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. For some of us, our 2023 Annual Meeting was the first in-person meeting after the pandemic. This return to an in-person event was held on June 15-16 at the Chicano Park Museum and Cultural Center in San Diego. It was inspiring to be surrounded by such a long history of community activism and the fight for justice.
We were honored to have Assemblymember Tasha Boerner Horvath open our meeting with an inspiring message about the value of our work on health and equity, the opportunities ahead, and the importance of AB 548.
Day one continued with “Updates from the Field” covering lead poisoning prevention and tenants’ rights. We heard how LA County quickly mobilized to use its lead settlement funds to identify and remediate lead hazards across the county from Janet Scully with the Los Angeles County Public Health Department (slides), learned about federal, state, and local efforts to improve outreach, education, and training around lead hazards for code enforcement officers and workforce development opportunities from Larry Brooks with the Alameda County Healthy Homes Department (slides), and the critical work needed to ensure efforts to replace lead in water lines is done safely from Susan Little with the Environmental Working Group (slides). The lead presentations were followed by a legislative update on key tenant protection bills moving in the legislature this year and their connection to our work on healthy housing from Lorraine Lopez from Western Center on Law and Poverty (SB 567, AB 846, SB 584) and an overview of tenants’ rights related to habitability issues by Lupe Arreola with Tenants Together (slides).
We concluded the day with some coalition updates, an overview on the IAQ workgroup’s discussion on equitable approaches to smoke-free housing (slides), and breakout sessions for each of our workgroups to share and discuss priorities for the year.
We gathered again on day two to learn about exciting work being done around climate change and healthy housing. Leicia Ayala with the Environmental Health Coalition (with a message from Congressman Scott Peters) shared how a local program putting air monitors and portable air filters into homes impacted by air pollution is serving as a model to address exposure to wildfire smoke nationwide (slides), Ana Tabuena Ruddy described the many ways StreetsLA is using public works investments to mitigate extreme heat and the urban heat island effect (slides), and Daniel Malashock and Sarah Sullivant with the US EPA shared a range of resources to address water damage and mold from extreme weather and flooding events (slides).
We also had a lively discussion around code enforcement and mobile home parks with Matthew Weise from the California Department of Housing and Community Development and Mariah Thompson with California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc. (slides). We then concluded the annual meeting with small group discussions about access to healthy housing resources and expanding the healthy housing tent.