Documenting health hazards in substandard housing necessarily
involves visits to families' homes to conduct visual inspections and collect
environmental samples for analysis. This process requires advocates to interact
and work closely with residents. There are many opportunities, as well as potential
pitfalls, that will confront advocates working with residents in community sampling
Informing residents about environmental health hazards
that may exist is both an opportunity and a responsibility of advocates. Groups
should strive to fully involve residents in projects to assess health hazards
in their homes and in organizing and advocacy campaigns that include such assessments.
Through the outreach and education conducted during the home assessment process,
advocates can begin to raise awareness and cultivate interest about health hazards
in housing among those directly affected by such hazards. Once informed - and
in some cases motivated to act by information about health hazards in their
homes - these residents form a high-priority pool of concerned and knowledgeable
people who may be mobilized to support advocacy and become involved in the project
in other ways.
But documentation of health hazards may set in motion actions
that can have unintended adverse consequences for tenants, such as unsafe repairs
that aggravate hazards, retaliation against tenants, and more. Advocates need
to ensure that residents understand these potential risks and take appropriate
measures to support residents. Advocates also need to take care to respect the
privacy, property and time of residents in whose homes they perform investigations.
In addition to the pages available from the sidebar are
the following documents:
Resident-Organization Agreement (one version
one used in 2009)
- An agreement between advocates undertaking projects to investigate housing-related
health hazards and residents of homes where investigations are being performed.