One rarely hears of subsidized housing units that offer smoke-free living spaces, however Westlawn Gardens has done just that. As the new coordinator of the Wisconsin Tobacco Prevention and Poverty Network (WTPPN), I would like to congratulate the Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee for its vision to bring environmentally friendly developments to the city.
Inside Westlawn Gardens, tenants enjoy a smoke-free lobby and units which will go a long way toward reducing calls and visits to emergency services due to residents with pre-existing health conditions, like asthma, being exposed to their neighbors’ second-hand smoke.
The $82 million transformed multi-unit development is one shining example of what can be done in Wisconsin to proactively address smoke-free housing. No longer can we give the excuse that we cannot tell people what they are not allowed to do in their living environments when research supports that an overwhelming 72 percent of renters in Wisconsin prefer to live in environments that are smoke-free.
Let’s be clear. Smoke-free housing is about saving money and saving lives. It’s also about giving residents healthier places to live. It’s not about singling out smokers and, by the way, it’s perfectly legal and within the property owners’ right to make their buildings smoke-free.
The Clear Gains Network is a collection of statewide organizations that provides support and guidance to Wisconsin’s smoke-free housing initiatives. The Network’s vision is a Wisconsin where smoke-free housing is available to all.
Recently Clear Gains held a statewide meeting where Ken Tregelas, Business Manager with the Salvation Army, organization member of the WTPPN, presented the benefits of smoke-free housing to attendees. Tregales was joined by landlords, policymakers and activists from the across the state who support the Clear Gains mission.
However, there is still much work to be done. Therefore, I invite you to learn more about the Clear Gains Network and its movement for smoke-free multi-unit housing. Visit www.wismokefreehousing.com for more information.
Westlawn Gardens is one step in the right direction. Hopefully more housing developments will follow this example of offering smoke-free subsidized housing.