Common Health and Safety Hazards
One in four Colorado children has asthma1, and the incidence for this chronic disease is higher in families earning less than $35,000 per year2. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the Unites States behind smoking 3. Of the roughly one percent of homes tested for radon in Denver and Jefferson Counties nearly half had a high incidence of radon levels.
The prevalence of pre-1960 housing stock in Denver and Jefferson Counties increases the risk of lead poisoning on the low-income inhabitants in these areas. Additionally, older homes may have more structural problems (potentially creating safety hazards) and an elevated risk for other household allergens (pest and pet dander). In the poorest neighborhoods within these counties, a significant portion of homes are at a disproportionate risk for lead-based paint hazards5.
Energy: High Consumption and High Costs
Energy efficiency reduces utility costs and allows families to feel more comfortable in their homes. Unfortunately, Coloradans with limited incomes often cannot afford to take advantage of the benefits of energy efficiency. At the same time, financially struggling families are most vulnerable to high energy costs and fluctuations in energy prices. High energy bills drain a family’s financial resources that could be used for other critical needs such as food, clothing, and health care.
The energy burden in 2009 for low-income homes was 14.4% compared to 3.3% for non-low-income households6. Organizations that give financial assistance to pay utility bills provide a critical need, but do not solve the core issue of energy waste and high energy bills caused by leaky and inefficient homes. By weatherizing each home as a standard practice, we are helping to provide permanent solutions to critical needs of the most disadvantaged families in our communities.
1 American Lung Association
2 Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
3 Environmental Protection Agency
4 Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
5 Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
6 Colorado Low Income Energy Efficiency Retrofit Program Energy Impacts, Michael Blasnik, Feb. 2009