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For Residents: Health

Clean Indoor Air
Safe Spaces
New Parks
Healthy Food
Resident Engagement

HOPE SF is a unique and visionary public housing revitalization effort that exists to improve the lives and living environment of the people in some of San Francisco’s most impoverished neighborhoods. While everyone deserves a healthy living environment, many people suffer from preventable health problems due to hazards in their housing and environment.

Community members living in Bayview Hunters Point and Visitation Valley, two HOPE SF neighborhoods, are hospitalized more often than those in other San Francisco neighborhoods for nearly every disease, including asthma, congestive heart failure, diabetes, and urinary tract infections (see note 1 below). For many of these conditions, hospitalization rates are more than double that of other San Franciscans (see note 2 below). Such health disparities are unjust and correctable. Many of these health problems can be prevented with healthy home designs (that keep indoor air clean), safe indoor and outdoor spaces, and access to healthy food. HOPE SF will help create a healthy environment for all residents.

Clean Indoor Air
Exposure to indoor hazards like mold, dust, cockroaches, and dry rot can aggravate the symptoms of asthma and other respiratory illnesses. The asthma hospitalization rate in Bayview Hunters Point, where much of the housing is in decline, is more than four times that of the San Francisco average (see note 3 below). Designing homes and communities with clean and healthy air can truly ameliorate the affects of asthma and other health problems, thereby increasing quality of life and health, decreasing hardship and pain, and helping families avoid costly hospital visits.

Breathe-Easy Homes is a program implemented in Seattle’s High Point community to decrease asthma rates. It includes specially designed homes in addition to resident education. Evaluations of this initiative found that Breathe-Easy Homes residents had, on average, a 65% increase in kids’ asthma symptom-free days, and two-thirds fewer emergency room visits for residents of all ages (see note 4 below).

HOPE SF will apply learnings from the Breathe-Easy Homes program and expertise from Enterprise Community Partners to ensure healthy indoor air both during construction and in the new homes. Here are some examples of this at HOPE SF sites:
During construction, debris, dust, and mold from construction will be kept to a minimum.
Paints, sealants, adhesives, and furnishings that "off-gas" chemicals will not be used or will be aired prior to move-in.
Window coverings and heating and ventilation systems will reduce dampness, which can encourage dust mite and mold growth.

Find out more about how HOPE SF revitalization involves building green.

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Safe Spaces
Streets and neighborhoods built around the needs of pedestrians are both more enjoyable places to live and safer for children and seniors. Pedestrian-oriented design has been shown to have a positive impact on general public safety as well.

HOPE SF will plan for safety by including:
Sidewalks, crosswalks, streetlights, and slower-moving traffic.
Intelligent design of individual units, stairwells, and shared space.
Design principles proven to create safer communities, such as street-facing buildings that help residents keep their “eyes on the street.”

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New Parks
Physical activity helps people maintain a healthy weight, lowering the risk of heart disease, colon cancer, and Type 2 diabetes. Studies show it also increases self-esteem and decreases stress and anxiety.

A lack of adequate outdoor space, usable parks, and safe green space in and near HOPE SF sites can make it challenging for children and adults to exercise regularly, which increases their risk for many health problems.

HOPE SF will redesign parks and open spaces within each development so that residents have welcoming places to walk, play, and exercise. Plans are underway for:
Community gardens
Newly landscaped parks
Tree-lined streets that welcome pedestrians and bicycles

Learn more about improvements to parks and open space.

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Healthy Food
The most easily accessible products for sale in local Bayview Hunters Point stores are alcohol, tobacco, and junk foods. One study showed that less than 5% of the food in these stores was produce (see note 5 below). In Visitation Valley, another HOPE SF neighborhood, residents also face a severe lack of nutritional resources.

“At the market, one can purchase candy, alcohol and cigarettes, popcorn, milk and soft drinks, but no real food. The rest of the neighborhood does not fare much better. Fast food restaurants blanket the community and no fresh produce or grocery stores exist.”
—Sunnydale Community Builder, Tonja Boykin (Learn more about Community Builders.)

HOPE SF seeks to provide residents with the tools necessary to make positive choices regarding their health and well-being, including resources and initiatives such as:
Community gardening
Creating community-based produce
Developing sustainable agriculture and landscaping
Healthy shopping and eating
Easy access to San Francisco programs and services that promote nutrition for children, youth, and seniors
Farmers markets

Thriving and sustainable mixed-income communities become catalysts for creating economic activity. After public housing sites are dramatically revitalized, businesses such as small-scale grocery stores, produce markets, and restaurants will be attracted to the safer and more prosperous communities. Learn more about Neighborhood Improvements.

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Resident Engagement
Engaging residents through all phases of planning and implementation is not only a HOPE SF principle, it is critical to ensuring the best health outcomes for all community members. The successful Breathe-Easy Homes program in Seattle involved residents in planning for healthy homes and neighborhood design. In fact, the program was initially suggested by a resident and then adopted by researchers at the University of Washington (see note 6 below). Read more

HOPE SF involves resident advocates and leaders throughout the process to ensure that they are connected with local resources, initiatives, and opportunities to bring about healthy changes. Find out more about how HOPE SF revitalization involves building green.

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1. Katz, MD, Mitchell H. Health Programs in Bayview Hunter’s Point & Recommendations for Improving the Health of Bayview Hunter’s Point Residents, San Francisco Department of Public Health, September 2006. PP.1-2

2. For example, the diabetes hospitalization rate in Bayview Hunters Point is 3.5 times the San Francisco average, and the congestive heart failure hospitalization rate is more than 2.5 times the city average. See the Healthy Development Measurement Tool, Neighborhood Profile Comparison: Health Outcomes. San Francisco Department of Public Health, Copyright © 2006.

3. Healthy Development Measurement Tool, Neighborhood Profile Comparison: Health Outcomes.

4. Breathe-Easy Homes ease asthma symptoms in High Point’s low-income children. Brochure available at: http://www.practitionerresources.org/cache/documents/672/67290.pdf. (PDF)

5. Katz, MD, Mitchell H. Health Programs in Bayview Hunter’s Point. p.11

6. Breathe-Easy Homes ease asthma symptoms in High Point’s low-income children.