About Us

Our mission is to empower the constituents of the Coalition member organizations and agencies to maintain and provide healthy, stable homes. We do this by supporting policies and programs that improve the health and quality of housing in Multnomah County, whether it's educating community members on how to clean up mold in their homes, how to weatherize their homes, how to address lead hazards, or working to ensure habitability standards in our local codes and ordinances address issues like mold, pest, lead, and other health and safety concerns.

The Coalition is made up of several community-based nonprofit organizations, government agencies, and property management entities that convene every other month to work towards our common vision of ensuring everyone has access to stable and healthy housing in our county.

Please explore our blog for information on the history, members, and current initiatives. If you are interested in joining our Coalition, reach out to one of our members and they will invite you to our next meeting. We typically meet on the 4th Wednesday, every other month (January, March, May, July, September, and November). 

In addition to attending bi-monthly meetings, our members are active in various working groups according to their skills and expertise. Working groups meet between meetings towards their various initiatives and present informational updates, discuss and agree on courses of action, and share opportunities for funding and collaboration. See the Initiatives tab for more information on our projects.

The Healthy Homes Coalition traces its origin back to 2001 during the first Multnomah County Community Environmental Health Assessment, which lead to the County using environmental justice principles as a foundational value. Many of the member organizations added environmental health programming, and since then, we've accomplished much towards our goals. (You can read more about our goals on the Initiatives tab and background on the History tab.) Beginning with an advisory group for a HUD grant, to a local, ground-breaking Health and Housing Summit, which lead to the herculean effort of the Quality Rental Housing Working Group to get their final recommendations approved by Portland City Council, to now working towards implementing the requirements of these visionary code changes, we've got a lot to be proud of, and a heck of a lot of work to do. So contact us, if you'd like to join in the efforts!

Healthy Homes Coalition (HHC) Steering Committee

Jennifer Coleman, Oregon Environmental Council, HHC Chair

Barrett Karnes, Reach CDC, HHC Co-Chair

Jonathan Clay, Multifamily NW & HHC Secretary

Kim Tierney, Multnomah County Environmental Health Dept. Liaison to HHC

Further Background
February 2012

The Healthy Homes Coalition originated as key component of a Multnomah County Environmental Health Services’ Housing and Urban Development (HUD) grant. The grant, which was received in 2006, had two goals:
  1. Decrease exposures to multiple household hazards which contribute to asthma exacerbations and other serious illnesses among children under the age of 6 in Portland’s distressed communities of Multnomah County; and 
  2.  Implement sustainable healthy homes concepts at the programmatic and policy level. 
To help achieve the second goal, MCEHS engaged key stakeholders in the creation of sustainable collaboration between health and housing partners to promote healthy homes, fair housing and environmental justice. The Healthy Homes Collaborative involved the following organizations from local, state and federal government, the private sector, and community based organizations: Multnomah County Health Department Primary Care Facilities, Coalition of Community Health Clinics, Housing Authority of Portland, City of Portland Bureau of Housing and Community Development, Portland Development Commission, American Lung Association of Oregon, City of Portland Office of Neighborhood Involvement, Community Energy Project, Community Alliance of Tenants, Fair Housing Council of Oregon, and Multnomah County Weatherization and Energy Assistance Program.

The Collaborative was charged with the following outcomes:
  •  Further establish collaborations important to the project.
  • Improve communication and understanding of the mutual benefits of increased coordination among local health and housing partners.
  • Increase local capacity (knowledge, skills, protocols, resources) among project partners, in order to sustain healthy homes.
  • Incorporate health standards into housing policies and procedures to produce sustainable reductions in the disproportionate exposures to environmental hazards experienced by target populations.
The multiple partnerships developed under this HUD grant and the preliminary findings of the demonstration grant identified the need to explore the community assets that encourage and the barriers that impede the maintenance of safe, healthy, and affordable housing. To facilitate this, MCEHS convened a Health and Housing summit of key stakeholders. On May 17, 2007, MCEHS hosted the summit to provide information on the connections between health and housing and foster a community-level dialogue. 

Current assets and barriers to healthy housing were identified by engaging participants in presentations on various environmental health issues and housing codes, and framing the day with a presentation on environmental justice. Participants provided advice to help advance housing policy that will improve health. The findings and associated Healthy Homes Recommendations addressed the need to: 

1) increase enforceable housing codes in Multnomah County;
2) develop educational resources for landlords and tenants; 
3) create a stronger connection between health and housing in public policy; 
4) decrease the barrier of maintaining the availability of affordable housing due to remediation costs  required to keep properties healthy and safe; and 
5) increase understanding of the inverse relationship between affordable, healthy housing and health disparities.

As a result of the summit, many decision and policymakers became more interested in the connection between health and housing, and how their different jurisdictions and bureaus play a role in impacting substandard housing. We strengthened the existing Advisory Group by transforming it into a Healthy Homes Coalition to support implementation of the recommendations from the summit, as well as the recommendations that came from a year-long process with the City of Portland to create recommendations to improve the quality of rental housing within the city. The work from both of these processes has been the foundation of the Coalitions work plan and includes policy advocacy and development, strengthening education resources and outreach to culturally specific communities and improving data collection to better understand the health-related issues in rental housing. Current Coalition members include local environmental health community-based organizations, tenant advocate organizations, landlord and property manager membership organizations, social service agencies and various government agencies that work on housing. 

In Multnomah County, organizations have collaborated around Health and Housing since 2001; five years before the Coalition formed. Below is a timeline of activity in which you can see the context from which the Coalition was derived.