Eco-Healthy Homes: safer children’s spaces at Hacienda CDC

Many people these days are familiar with the fact that products for the home, from toys to cleaning products, can contain toxic chemicals. This fact alone is cause for concern. But, did you know that women, children, people of color and people living on lower incomes are at a greater risk of toxic chemical exposure?  Or that access to consumer safety information may not be available to non-english speakers? Or that, because of their small size, kids are much more vulnerable to the health impacts of exposure to toxic products? 

In 2020, OEC partnered with Hacienda CDC, an affordable housing provider in Portland,to host focus groups to educate families on alternative non-toxic cleaning options and distribute 75 non-toxic cleaning kits to their residents. This year, OEC was able to partner with Oregon Metro and Hacienda CDC again to develop a tailored curriculum in Hacienda’s existing parenting programs to reduce toxic chemical exposures to kids and kid’s spaces in Hacienda homes. 

Hacienda CDC is more than an affordable housing provider. Each of their sites has community programs that serve their residents, including- afterschool programs, parenting classes, and youth programs. Hacienda CDC manages more than 900 affordable housing units, over half of which have children, or are multi-generational.

Working creatively, deliberately, and jointly:

OEC and Hacienda hosted joint virtual workshops and trainings, using a train-the-trainer approach with several program managers within Hacienda CDC’s programs. This way, community leaders could continue to support their communities from within. Participating families received a tailored pamphlet with specific nontoxic cleaning tips for children’s toys and surfaces. The pamphlet also included recipes and an ingredient list to make non-toxic all-purpose cleaners, bathroom cleaners, floor cleaners, and stain removers. Gift cards were provided to enable residents to purchase their ingredients and other extra items of their choosing.

Community impacts:

We received positive feedback throughout the training sessions about the utility of receiving information on non-toxic cleaning options that were both effective and affordable. For example, many of the residents had sensitive skin, or had children that had sensitive skin/asthma, and needed options without harsh chemicals. But more importantly, our partnership with Hacienda CDC became a long-term one, spanning across several of their community programs, and impacting many kids and families along the way. 

Thank you to the Healthy Babies Bright Futures’ Bright Cities Program for funding and supporting this work.

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