07 Oct

LSA, Columbia, and NYAM Partner in HUD Grant to Combat Asthma in East Harlem


October 7, 2015 – New York, NY – The US Dept. of Housing and Urban Development announced on September 30th that Little Sisters of the Assumption Family Health Service (LSA) is a lead partner in a $672,000 grant to study low-cost methods to control asthma triggers in the home. The 3-year grant was awarded to Columbia University in partnership with LSA and The New York Academy of Medicine, and was among $2 million in grant research awards allocated.

“LSA is honored to be a part of this important research,” said Traci Lester, Chief Executive Officer of the Little Sisters of the Assumption Family Health Service. “We’re proud to bring to this partnership our reputation in the community as a trusted and reliable resource. Our Environmental Health Services team has years of experience in fighting the prevalence of asthma in this neighborhood by addressing its underlying causes.”

The intention of the grant is to help families like that of Elizabeth Gonzalez and her three children, all of whom are asthmatic. The family was profiled in a recent article by National Geographic which featured families being served by LSA’s Environmental Health Services. Gonzalez’s apartment walls are damp and moldy, and cockroaches infest the apartment: both conditions which trigger asthma attacks. “I’m happy to have a roof over my head, but this apartment is keeping us sick,” Gonzalez told reporter Lindsey Konkel.

Through the new HUD grant, LSA will conduct an intervention study to evaluate low-cost methods for preventing and controlling mold and excess moisture in the homes of New York City children with asthma. The study will look at the effectiveness of methods to control mold in both the short term (1 year) and long term (2-5 years), and will also examine how the presence of mold impacts health and quality of life.

Ray Lopez, Director of the Environmental Health Services program, said: “The new HUD grant means that we will continue to provide the best possible services to our families. The EHS team is excited to participate in the study, and we think the grant will give us the added confidence that what we do is backed by scientific evidence.”

The awarding of this grant coincides with completion of a 3-year study LSA conducted with the New York Academy of Medicine, also funded by the HUD. That award was the first time HUD ever funded a grant to combat indoor conditions that exacerbate asthma.

The results from this initial study clearly demonstrate a correlation between LSA’s intervention to remove asthma triggers and a decrease in asthma symptoms. A paper on these outcomes has been accepted for publication in an upcoming issue of Environmental Justice, a peer-reviewed journal which covers “the adverse and disparate health impact and environmental burden that affects marginalized populations all over the world.”

The grant is part of HUD’s Healthy Homes Technical Studies (HHTS) Grant Program, which supports research on new approaches to improve the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of methods to evaluate and control housing-related health and safety hazards. The grants announced on September 30th supplement $101 million in grants HUD awarded in August to protect thousands of children from lead and other home health hazards.

Asari Beale, LSA Family Health Services
646) 672-5200