KCK Housing Authority Goes Smoke-Free with the Help of HCW

As of January 1, 2018, the Kansas City, Kansas Housing Authority is smoke-fee! And now thanks to a $107,000 grant, Healthy Communities Wyandotte is poised to help residents of the Housing Authority and other Wyandotte Countians quit smoking.

In January of 2017, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced that Housing Authority properties nationwide would be going smoke-free. HUD gave local Housing Authorities 18 months to make the change, with an official compliance date of July 1, 2018.  
 
"With our new 'No Smoking Policy' the Housing Authority's goal is to provide a healthier environment for our residents and the community around us," says Matt Watkins, the Housing Authority's chairman of the board. Tobacco users may still smoke, but they must go outside and keep 25 feet away from building entrances. Non-smoking residents will not be exposed to second-hand smoke in their homes. With help from HCW's Tobacco Free Wyandotte team, the Housing Authority is also providing tobacco cessation resources to residents who want to quit.

The Unified Government Public Health Department was recently awarded a $107,000 Special Initiative Grant from the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City to build on HCW's cessation support efforts. The grant is a collaboration between HCW, Kansas City Kansas Housing Authority (KCKHA), Black Health Care Coalition, and Kansas Pharmacy Association. Together, these partners will work to bring cessation support directly to KCKHA residents through resident leadership development, access to medication, and group classes. In addition, the team will work with clinics and locally-owned pharmacies to improve access to cessation treatment and allow WyCo residents to better utilize community pharmacists.

So far, residents have been adjusting to the new policy well. Melinda Linnell, the Director of Housing Management, is already seeing people step outside to smoke, and always gives them a friendly greeting and a reminder to be at least 25 feet away from the building. “They’ll get the hang of it, but it will take time,” she says.
 
“It’s not just for the health of our residents, but also our staff. And it’s about safety,” said Linnell. A significant number of the Housing Authority’s 2,058 units in KCK are elderly/disabled housing, which includes people who use oxygen, inhalers, and other equipment that can drastically increase the chance of a fire when used in conjunction with smoking. “We’ve been blessed in the past, but we decided it was time to make some changes.”
 
The next step is getting signage up around all KCK Housing Authority properties and playgrounds. Due to winter weather conditions, the maintenance staff has been delayed in getting the signs up, but they expect to have all signage in place by March 1.

To get involved in the effort or learn more contact Rebecca Garza rgarza@wycokck.org