Lekquan Young rushed her 8-month-old son to the hospital when she noticed his chest looked sunken as he breathed. The doctor told her that her baby son had asthma. Today, her son is 8 years old and has suffered frequent asthma attacks at home.
“There was mold within the home and the air quality wasn’t good,” says Lekquan, a single mom living in Baltimore, Md. The roof over the kitchen leaked and it wasn’t insulated, she adds. “Air was coming into the house.”
But after a coalition called the Baltimore Green and Healthy Homes Initiative gave Lekquan’s house an air-quality and weatherization assessment and then a thorough home improvement, her son already feels better. The program, made possible with Recovery Act dollars, provides comprehensive health, safety, and energy efficiency upgrades to low-income families around the city.
The workers who came to her house replaced the broken hot water tank and installed a new furnace. They sealed up air leaks around the house, popped in a better ventilation system, and insulated the basement and attic. On top of all that, the team removed the old carpeting and showed Lekquan how to prevent mold – both of which had worsened her son DaWayne’s asthma, she says.
The weatherization project, which took a few days to complete, even caught the attention of her neighbors. “They are very excited,” she says. “Their kids may have the chance as well at having better homes like mine, so it’s truly a blessing.”
Lekquan heard about the weatherization program through her son’s grandmother who knew other asthma sufferers that had been helped by it. The Green and Healthy Homes Initiative – part of by the Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning – improves air quality, mitigates pests and lead contamination, reduces fire and water risks and helps bring smaller utility bills home to families, which is especially important right now.
Over the past few years, high energy bills have made it hard for Lekquan, a single mom, to keep a balanced budget. Now she expects to save up to 40 percent on her energy costs. And the home is a lot more presentable for guests now, too.
“Thanksgiving, Christmas, my son is planning sleepovers with his friends. He’s so excited about all that has been done in the home,” she says. The third-grader has a lot to be proud of and so does Lekquan.
“We were just floored. I couldn’t stop crying,” she says. “I thought they were going to do small things, but it feels like I have a new house, like a mini ‘extreme makeover.’”
The Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning partnered with the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development, the Baltimore Community Foundation, the Baltimore City Weatherization Program, and others, to create the Green and Healthy Homes Initiative.