The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) supports and encourages smoke-free affordable housing. Residents who live in public housing tend to have higher rates of chronic diseases that are worsened by exposure to secondhand smoke such as asthma and heart disease. According to HUD, 54% of affordable housing residents are children or elderly residents over the age of 62 who are more vulnerable to the effects of second hand smoke. There is an increased demand for smoke-free affordable housing as approximately 72% of low income citizens do not smoke and would prefer to live in smoke-free housing. As of January 2011, 230 public housing authorities have adopted smoke-free policies and this number is continuing to grow.
In addition to secondhand smoke exposure, tenants are also exposed to an increased risk of residential building fires. The United States Fire Administration distributed a report in 2012 that discussed this topic. It was found that on average smoking related fires in residential buildings were responsible annually for, “approximately 365 deaths, 925 injuries, and $326 million in property loss each year”. Smoking-related fires are one of the leading causes of fire deaths and are responsible for 14% of fire deaths in residential buildings. (Smoking Related Fires Report)
There is also a large financial burden associated with the rehabilitation of smoking units. On average a non-smoking unit costs $570 to repair whereas a smoking unit costs $1,810 to $3,515.
How to make affordable housing smoke-free
- Amend the property’s “house rules” to include smoking restrictions in accordance with state and local laws.
- Add a no smoking policy in the lease or create a lease addendum. The change would be made for current tenants when they sign their annual renewal.
- If the property is a private development that accepts vouchers, the management can make the change in the lease or house rules as long as the smoke-free policy applies to every resident.
- All changes to rental agreements must be approved by HUD and considered to be reasonable.
San Diego Housing Commission
Find A Smokefree Apartment
If you are seeking to move to an apartment where smoking is not allowed, the instructions on the following brochure will help guide your search:
HUD Guidebook – Implementing HUD’s Smoke-Free Policy in Public Housing