Gainesville, Fla.Policies for Action (P4A) announced today that Sherry Ahrentzen, principal investigator from the University of Florida, along with Lynne Dearborn, co-principal investigator from the University of Illinois, received $248,250 in grant funding for a research project. This research will examine how states are using incentives and other program criteria to advance healthier housing for low-income and vulnerable populations.

P4A, a program through the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, announced Ahrentzen and Dearborn’s grant as one of six grantee projects now underway nationwide. Their research project is the sole one whose investigators are in schools of architecture and construction, offering an innovative way to research how the built environment affects our health. It is also the only project based at public land-grant research universities.

“We will be looking at each state’s Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program in terms of what they do now and how they require or incentivize occupant health-related building or design practices,” said Ahrentzen, who is a professor at the UF Shimberg Center for Housing Studies.

The LIHTC program is the main source of funds for constructing or renovating affordable housing in the country today. Ahrentzen and Dearborn aim to gain a better understanding of how the program can encourage design and construction of healthier affordable housing.

This could include anything from the materials used in the construction, to design characteristics of the home, to access to neighborhood amenities. For example, Ahrentzen said, we can look at which flooring materials are prone to toxins or allergens, or interior layouts of the home that support occupants with disabilities.

The P4A program funds research identifying policies, laws and regulations in the public and private sectors supporting the RWJW’s mission to build a Culture of Health.

Over the next two years, Ahrentzen and Dearborn will be working closely together and with doctoral students and an advisory team to collect and analyze data and document best practices.

“Often times when you’re building affordable housing, you don’t think about all the small things that eventually have an additive effect,” Ahrentzen said. “I think of affordable housing as public investment. If we are going to be spending that much money on housing, and we are providing subsidies, let’s make sure what we produce is the best homes we can for occupants and community.”

 

Writer: Emily Buchanan, ebuchanan@dcp.ufl.edu, 352-294-1421

Policies for Action News Release: http://www.policiesforaction.org/p4a-announces-six-grantee-projects

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