The Healthy Homes Task Force held its fourth public meeting on Zoom on Tuesday, where members identified problems and potential solutions through the Healthy Homes Scholarship Program.

The task force is made up of officials from multiple agencies including the Oregon Health Association, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and Oregon Habitat for Humanity among others. The task force met following the creation of House Bill 2842 in the 2021 legislative session. Its main goal is to develop tools and information on services, programs, and other resources related to housing and home-related issues throughout Oregon.

During Tuesday’s meeting, task force members emphasized the importance of making sure the program can meet the needs of both Oregonians and the legislature.

“The legislature has expectations about what this program can and cannot do.” said Gabriella Goldvard, a member of the Healthy Homes Task Force. “What you identify in terms of barriers or systemic issues, that they might be able to do something about… will help us and help them understand what is realistic.” Goldfard is also director of the Division of Environmental Public Health with OHA.

Grant funding and legal hurdles between tenants and landlords were just two of the issues addressed during Tuesday’s meeting. The task force also noted that every tenant and homeowner are different, which is why it is important that the grant program be flexible.

“This program has to be flexible to allow for that kind of diversity to meet this need,” said Charity Fain, a member of the Healthy Homes Task Force and executive director of the Community Energy Project. “The complexity of the rental market means that the program needs to allow for the flexibility and solutions allowed under the grant.”

After identifying potential problems and solutions with the grant program, the staff took the time to emphasize their main objectives.

“These things involve a central focus on health and health outcomes,” said Ben Duncan, a member of the Task Force on Healthy Homes and Kearns & West Associate. “This includes guidance to address racial disparities, focus on those most affected by the environmental risks associated with housing, and also continually raise to ensure the success of our solutions for tenants.”

The next working group meeting is scheduled for December 15. A link to the Zoom public online meeting is available.

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