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BernCo Housing Department Receives Lung Champion Award from American Lung Association

09/25/2014

Commission Vice Chair Art De La Cruz receiving an awardCounty moving toward smoke-free public housing

Bernalillo County’s Housing Department today received the Lung Champion Award from the American Lung Association for the county’s progress toward smoke-free public housing.

The award was presented at a celebration today that also highlighted new renovations to the community building at El Centro Familiar Senior Housing and a new partnership with Cornerstone United Methodist Church and Roadrunner Food Bank that provides fresh food to the community.

The Bernalillo County Housing Department is promoting smoke-free public housing in the 75 public housing units managed by the county. Starting this month, residents signing new leases will need to agree to a nonsmoking clause before moving into or continuing to live in the county’s public housing units. This process will be phased in over time and those that choose to continue to smoke can do so in designated smoking areas outside.

“The Bernalillo County Commission is proud to support the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s smoke-free public housing initiative,” Commission Vice Chair Art De La Cruz says. “This policy means less exposure to second-hand smoke for children and families. And we’re already saving money and resources through reduced maintenance costs at the county’s public housing communities.”

American Lung Association staff have also provided access to education and services to help people quit smoking if they choose to, including smoking cessation patches, nicotine gum and health information. The funding to provide this outreach came from a federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention grant.

“This is a proactive approach to better community health and maintenance cost-savings at our public housing communities,” Housing Director Betty Valdez says. “I want to thank the Housing Department and American Lung Association staff for reaching out to the residents and providing information about our new policy and access to information about quitting smoking.”

Also today, Commissioner De La Cruz highlighted major renovations to the community building at El Centro Familiar Senior Housing, a total investment of more than $300,000.

Commissioner De La Cruz also honored the Rev. Lourdes Calderon and Cornerstone United Methodist Church today for sponsoring an entire year’s worth of shared maintenance costs that helps bring food to the families of this community through Roadrunner Food Bank. This sponsorship pays for staff and transport costs for example, that helps the donated food get from the Roadrunner warehouse to the families at Bernalillo County’s public housing community.

“This is just the kind of partnership that our community needs – local government and nonprofits working together to make a difference in Bernalillo County,” Commissioner De La Cruz says. The Bernalillo County Housing Department manages 75 public housing units at two locations in the South Valley, including 54 units for the elderly and 21 for the disabled.

The majority of the department’s budget comes from federal Housing and Urban Development grants.

Pictured above is Dr. Duane Ross, Board Chair, American Lung Association in New Mexico,  presenting the "Lung Champion" award to District 2 Commissioner Art De La Cruz.

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