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Healthy Housing and Indoor Air Quality: A Chicago Field Study

Improving housing quality and lowering energy costs help low-income families avoid health problems, unstable housing, and food insecurity. When the burden of utility bills is reduced, infants and toddlers are 23% less likely to be at nutritional risk for growth problems, and adults experience an 18% decrease in hypertension rates. For a very low-income family, the average savings due to energy upgrades is 3% of their income – helping to reduce housing costs and the impact of rising energy costs. When families spend less of their income on housing and utility costs, they can spend more on food, healthcare, child enrichment, and other household needs.

Health and safety upgrades are a precursor to doing energy work. If we can address health issues in buildings, we can do more energy retrofits. In 2014-2017, 50% of applicants to Chicago Bungalow
Association Energy Savers program for income-qualified single-family homes were rejected due to H&S issues. The revised weatherization program under IL’s 2016 Future Energy Jobs Act added H&S funding, and brought walkaway rate down to 15%. We know from the research side that when we do energy work well, we improve occupant health outcomes.

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