A new collaborative effort led by Des Moines area nonprofits, hospitals, and government agencies was selected to receive a $250,000 grant for their efforts to improve community health from the BUILD Health Challenge, a national awards program. This initiative, called Healthy Homes East Bank, targets deteriorating housing in the Capitol Park, Martin Luther King, Jr. Park, and Capitol East neighborhoods, where moisture, mold, and pests have led to elevated rates of asthma.

The project recognizes that hospital treatment is only a small piece of improving long-term health. For Healthy Homes East Bank, the intervention starts at home. The BUILD Health Challenge grant will allow Healthy Homes East Bank to implement a three-pronged approach to improving asthma in Des Moines:

  1. Identifying homes in need of help: With the help of three medical centers, individuals suffering asthma will get a referral to the Healthy Homes program.
  2. Repairing homes: Healthy Homes will coordinate health inspectors to identify risk factors and contractors to make repairs.
  3. Educating families: Public health professionals will teach families and individuals how to control asthma triggers through health education and behavior change.

Capacity for collaboration was a key deciding factor in project selection, and Healthy Homes East Bank had an advantage because it was able to leverage community development efforts well under way by Viva East Bank partnerships. Additional project partners include: Polk County Housing Trust Fund, Polk County Health Department, Mercy Medical Center, Broadlawns Medical Center, UnityPoint Health, the City of Des Moines, Viva East Bank, the Mid-Iowa Health Foundation, Visiting Nurse Services of Iowa, Polk County Public Works, and Des Moines Public Schools.