lavar johson and shirley morris in front of their homes | healthy homes connect logo         

Healthy Home Connect Success Story: Fresh Start 

By Tess Orlev
Feb. 5, 2019

Left photo: Lavar Johnson, 41, has been battling a chronic illness for more than a decade. He is now enjoying his home upgrades and improved health.



healthy home connectLavar Johnson, 41, of Belle Haven, California, lives alone in his home and has suffered from severe respiratory issues for more than a decade. His chronic illness has lead him to rely on taking many medications. Mr. Johnson has sinus congestion, on top of dealing with asthma and allergies–it’s no wonder that he also reported feelings of depression.

Johnson was previously employed as a cashier at a local pharmacy but now, living on a fixed income has put Mr. Johnson in a tight spot, as fixed incomes commonly lead to utilities accounting for as much as 20% of the household income.

Due to his physical state and financial situation, he was not able to make the improvements on his home that were required for his health and safety.

Visible moisture could be seen coming through cracks in the walls throughout the home, especially near the fireplace, and the state of the carpet–damaged by pet stains and other factors–was exacerbating Mr. Johnson’s health conditions to a debilitating degree.

Build It Green’s (BIG) new program Healthy Home Connect (HHC) reached out to Mr. Johnson as part of their mission to deliver health and energy upgrades to homes in the Belle Haven community—homes that would otherwise be disqualified from housing assistance programs. BIG along with their community partner El Concilio of San Mateo County (ECSMC) non-profit, were able to facilitate many improvements to 18 homes, which directly impacted quality of life for the program participants.

The generous funding for this innovative project came from Facebook Inc., located in Menlo Park. The company wanted to give back to their local community in a very tangible way. “We wanted to be involved in a program that prioritized the Belle Haven community and are proud to be working with some of the best nonprofits in California to bring about change in people's lives in a direct and impactful way,” said Lauren Swezey, Sustainability and Community Outreach Manager at Facebook.

Exasperating Illnesses: Mold and Your Health

There is always going to be some mold around—in the air and on many surfaces because mold grows naturally where there is moisture.

The issue arises when people are subjected to prolonged exposure to excessive damp and moldy environments which may cause a variety of health effects. Some people are sensitive to molds, such as the chronically ill or the elderly.

Many people are not aware that their conditions may be affecting their health. HHC specifically focuses on the health benefits of home upgrades, using the Hayward Score to identify unhealthy conditions. The patent-pending, web-enabled tool, built by the best minds in the healthy homes industry over the past three years, provides a survey, home score, and a customized set of recommendations outlining steps to improve the health and safety of their home.

Hayward Score’s targeted survey questions and refined algorithms typically achieve the same level of accuracy as expensive indoor air quality testing, which most residents cannot afford.

HHC Transforms his Home

In Mr. Johnson’s case his Hayward Score was 58 out of 100, and revealed conditions that created an especially unhealthy environment for someone battling a chronic illness, but thankfully, help was on the way when HHC was able to correct many issues going on in the house and create a healthier living space.

The first matter to address was to replace the damaged carpeting which was a real health hazard. Vinyl flooring was chosen as a cost effective and health conscious choice.

new vinyl flooring

The gutters were replaced, and cracks around the fireplace were mended to seal the air from coming in from the attic. They also handled an issue with a broken downspout that was hitting the foundation of the house.

patched crack in kitchen ceiling

a new rain spoutThe contractors added a range hood over the stove, patched up the cracks in the walls and cleaned the area with new paint and mold solution.

a newly-installed fan hood

“I now have a fan above the stove, it looks better and helps a lot when I cook to keep the smoke out of my home. I did not have a fan over the stove before and there was a lot of smoke, when I cooked. I didn’t realize what a big difference it would make for me, and I am very grateful,” said Johnson.

They replaced the door from the kitchen to the backyard which was dilapidated, weather striped the door and the rest of house, making sure to check for any issues with gas leaks. “The doors were falling apart, so the contractor replaced those. It looks really nice, I’m sure to see a decrease in my energy bills in the following months when using the heater,” said Johnson.

a new kitchen door

BIG is pleased to report that Mr. Johnson is enjoying his revamped home with improved indoor air quality which is not only more comfortable but is also having a positive effect on his health as well. “It helped a lot being a part of the program, the best part for me is they replaced the carpet with new vinyl floors, which immediately looked great and I could breathe much easier right away,” said Mr. Johnson.

What is the HHC Program

Healthy Home Connect (HHC) is Build It Green’s (BIG) innovative new program leveraging multiple funding sources to deliver energy and healthy home upgrades simultaneously to benefit California’s most vulnerable populations. BIG has recently delivered health and energy upgrades to 18 homes and families faced with hardships in the Belle Haven community—homes that would otherwise not fully benefit from existing energy efficiency programs because they needed more basic repairs first. Learn more about HHC here.

 


What is Hayward Score

Hayward Score identifies unhealthy conditions in the home. This patent-pending, web-enabled tool, built by the best minds in the healthy homes industry provides a survey, home score, and a customized set of recommendations outlining steps to improve the health and safety of the home. Hayward Score’s targeted survey questions and refined algorithms typically achieve the same level of accuracy as expensive indoor air quality testing. Learn More about Hayward Score here.

 


What is El Concilio of San Mateo County

El Concilo of San Mateo County (ECSMC) mission is to empower diverse communities in California’s Central Valley. Their vision is to serve the whole community in order to help people realize their greatest potential by offering critically needed comprehensive and compassionate programs and services that provide outreach, education, counseling, as well as awareness of their personal strengths and abilities, and the knowledge of resources available to them. Learn More about El Concilio here.