On December 7, 2017 the DC Asthma Coalition (DCAC) and the DC Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics sponsored a briefing for DC Councilmembers and their staff to improve policymaker’s awareness of public health issues stemming from housing conditions among DC residents. A diverse range of stakeholders attended the briefing advocating for improvements to policies addressing housing conditions within the district.
Council staff members in attendance were incredibly receptive to learning about prevalent housing issues and were interested in getting details about the existing gaps in services. The multidisciplinary planning group drafted and provided a set of policy recommendations for the council to consider as they convene to address the needs of district.
Prior to the event, DCAC staffers actively met with the individual offices to garner support for the briefing. During these meetings DCAC became aware of pending legislation of significant interest to the asthma community. DC Councilmembers Brandon Todd, Charles Allen, Mary Cheh and Brianne Nadeau recently introduced legislation to addressing rodent infestation concerns in the district. This proposal could be beneficial to people living with asthma and other chronic health conditions that are exacerbated by environmental factors such as rodents. Specifically, the new bill would:
- Require businesses with a Public Health: Food Establishment Retail endorsement to create a plan to mitigate infestations of rats.
- Require newly built or converted food establishments to design space to mitigate the infestation of mice
- Give the Department of Health additional authority and ongoing funding to remedy health code violations related to rat harborage when a property owner will not.
The DC Council recently held a public hearing to discuss this legislation. Additionally, there is bill currently being drafted related to transparency of housing code violations in the district. Introduction of this bill is expected to occur in the upcoming months. If you would like to be part of the ongoing effort to work with stakeholders on healthy housing please email the Chair, Dr. Phoenix.
We look forward to continuing our discussions with the DC Council on these important topics into the future. We will continue to provide updates on legislation pertinent to the asthma community in the region. You can apply for coalition membership, either as a community member or as a representative of an organization, to receive email alerts of upcoming meetings and legislation being considered that could impact people with asthma.
Download documents from the briefing [PDF files]: