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Health and Human Services

Contacts: Kathy Barton
Porfirio Villarreal

Reyes garners National Healthy Housing Award

Brenda ReyesBrenda Reyes, chief of the Bureau of Community and Children's Environmental Health at the Houston Department of Health and Human Services (HDHHS), has earned honors from the National Safe and Healthy Housing Coalition.

Reyes is one of only four people in the country recognized with a National Safe and Healthy Housing Coalition Award for 2011. The award honors people who have made extraordinary contributions to the healthy homes movement, specifically helping those disproportionately impacted by unhealthy housing conditions, including low-income families and individuals, minorities, children and older adults.

Reyes helped develop the healthy homes for Community Health Workers curriculum and implemented the training in both urban and Texas border communities. She has been a Healthy Homes instructor and advocate since 2005.

Housing-related health risks include lead, mold, asthma, pests, carbon monoxide, radon and safety issues.

“Families exposed to these risks face increased medical costs, a wide range of illnesses and medical conditions, loss of income while caring for a personal or family member’s illness and high stress levels, “Reyes said. “They also have to deal with the hardship of seeing a loved one suffer.”

Reyes has championed health programs with Head Start and the Houston Independent School District. She teamed with the National Healthy Homes Training Center and Nancy Crider from UT-Houston School of Public Health Training Center, to create the Texas Healthy Homes Training Center (THHTC). Reyes and Crider drove around Texas and flew around the nation providing education on healthy homes and providing support to other agencies and departments to develop the Healthy Homes program. The training center has trained more than 1,000 health workers.

HDHHS’ Bureau of Community and Children's Environmental Health responds to resident complaints and performs site inspections involving indoor air pollution and surface contamination with hazardous materials, health and safety hazards in businesses, medical waste and radiation. It follows up with children with elevated blood lead levels and has provided lead hazard reduction to more than 2,000 homes since 1996. It also enforces the City no-smoking ordinance and inspects and permits ambulances.

The National Safe and Healthy Housing Coalition is the policy arm of the National Center for Healthy Housing. The center is the only national scientific and technical non-profit organization dedicated to creating healthy and safe homes for America's children through practical and proven steps. NCHH develops scientifically valid and practical strategies to make homes safe from hazards, to alert low-income families about housing-related health risks and to help them protect their children.