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Improving Health Outcomes for Affordable Housing Residents

Valley National Bank - Elizabeth, New Jersey

2020 Community Commitment Awards Submission

  • Entry Category: Affordable Housing
  • Asset Size: Medium

Valley Bank partnered with NJ-based Housing Authorities, and nonprofit partners to improve health outcomes for vulnerable, affordable housing residents. The Rutgers Center for Green Building was Valley's lead partner. This program leveraged Rutgers' research through on-site collaboration at the Housing Authority of the City of Elizabeth and successfully used air quality results to engage residents in managing related health impacts. In 2019, Valley sponsored a summer youth program at the on-site Bayway Family Success center. Founded on a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) approach, and lead by Rutgers' scientists, the program implemented the daily use of the US Environmental Protection Agency's Air Now Flag Program. This Flag Program uses colored flags to visually inform residents of the outdoor air quality. The youth learned how to track, measure, and respond to their findings. Older children built indoor air quality sensors and learned about the key relationship between measuring indoor and outdoor air quality. The youth shared their experience and knowledge with their families and resident seniors. Overall, this research-to-action program increased intergenerational community-engagement and offered affordable solutions for Housing Authorities and Affordable Housing providers. The program will expand through Valley's 2020 investment to incorporate Covid-19 related health impacts.