05 Dec

Breathing Easier

Environmental Health Services - Family

Yazmin’s family had no furniture in their one-room apartment, only a single mattress leaning against the wall.  Her baby suffered from lead exposure, and her oldest son had bad allergies and Asthma symptoms due to the poor conditions of the apartment.

In East Harlem, health conditions due to poor housing are all too common. The rates of emergency room visits related to childhood asthma are disproportionately higher in East Harlem compared to other communities.

To help families breathe easier, Community Health Workers from LSA  work closely with families to improve the conditions of their homes and advocate with landlords to make needed repairs.

“LSA has been focused on the asthma issue for over a decade,” explained our Program Director, Ray Lopez in a 2015 Dateline NBC special on asthma called Breathless. “We’ve been working hands-on with families at home to eliminate mold, pests and toxins so they can breathe again.”

Rosario, one of LSA’s skilled Community Health Workers, made regular visits with Yazmin to improve the air quality in her apartment.  LSA provided the family with a new bed, play pen and storage bins. The family was also loaned a HEPA vacuum cleaner and provided integrated pest management, including vacuuming, cleaning, and sealing cracks and holes.

Today, the environmental asthma triggers are under control, the health of the children has improved and Yazmin and her family have a new, more positive outlook for the future.

“The situation was very sad when I met her, but now to see the smile on her face is all I need,” Rosario said.

“We’re very happy,” Yazmin said, describing how her son’s asthma has improved.  “He used to have a lot of problems, a lot of allergies.  Little Sisters really helped to improve our quality of life and the quality of life of our children.”

A 2017 report published by the New York Academy of Medicine described the impact of our program in reducing childhood asthma symptoms. Learn more.


LSA relies on the support of individuals to continue to providing services like this to families facing challenges to their health and well-being.

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