The Potential for Proactive Housing Inspections to Inform Public Health Interventions

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Abstract

Municipal housing inspection data can inform planning, targeting, and evaluating interventions aimed at reducing housing hazards (lead paint, mold, pests, etc) that may affect residents' health. However, the potential of these data to inform public health initiatives is underexplored. We determined whether home health hazards identified by city inspectors during proactive inspections of single-family private rental housing are predicted by housing age, assessed value, or location in one of 26 geographic “inspector areas” in Rochester, New York. A comparison of linear mixed models, using housing inspector area as a random effect and assessment and construction year as fixed effects, shows that while a large proportion of variation (64%) in violations is due to housing stock, inspectors provide significant additional information about the presence of potential health hazards, particularly in the highest-risk housing stock. This suggests that inspector-generated housing hazard data may be valuable in designing public health interventions.

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