Up to Code

Up to Code

Code Enforcement Strategies for Healthy Housing

A safe, clean, and stable home is central to good health. When housing falls into disrepair or has pests, moisture, inadequate ventilation, or chemicals, it can become an unhealthy, or even dangerous, environment.

Substandard housing conditions can cause or exacerbate health problems for residents, and local code enforcement programs are the first line of defense in ensuring these individuals are not put at risk. To do this effectively, these programs require strong housing codes, well-trained enforcement officers, and cross-agency collaboration. They must partner with community groups, establish programs to assist residents and property owners, and collect and evaluate data from the field. By addressing housing issues comprehensively, code enforcement programs can preserve housing and protect residents’ health.

This practical guide can help jurisdictions design a robust code enforcement program to create and maintain healthy housing. It provides valuable resources from code enforcement programs and community organizations around the country, and outlines the practices and strategies necessary for code enforcement to ensure all residents live in safe and habitable housing.

In developing this guide, ChangeLab Solutions collaborated with the following members of the The Kresge Foundation’s Advancing Safe and Healthy Homes for Children and Families Initiative: the Alameda County Healthy Homes Department; the Greensboro Housing Coalition; the National Center for Healthy Housing; the City of Newark Department of Health and Community Wellness; and Strategic Actions for a Just Economy.

For more healthy housing policy solutions, check out our smokefree housing tools and our model healthy housing policies for comprehensive plans. ChangeLab Solutions’ Model Ordinance to Establish a Proactive Rental Inspection Program can help localities implement regular inspections of rental housing.

And to help communities create and retain quality, affordable rental housing, we developed a comprehensive toolkit: Preserving, Protecting, and Expanding Affordable Rental Housing: A Policy Toolkit for Public Health.