Stepping Stones to a Healthy Home - Developing an Effective Resource Manual


Speaker:Mr. Hector S. Dela Cruz, MS, REHS


Los Angeles County (LAC) Environmental Health (EH) manages a risk-based housing inspection program of multiple family dwellings (MFDís). Based upon inspection/compliance history, each MFD is assigned a Risk Assessment (RA) category ranging from RA 1 (high risk) to RA III (low risk).


Analyses of several RA 1 and RA II MFDís revealed that such buildings were more likely located in low-income neighborhoods where English may not be the primary language.Moreover, educational levels and literacy rates among residents in these areas were found to be below countywide averages. As a result, the presence of factors negatively affecting living conditions combined with the challenges presented by language, literacy, and learning barriers compounded efforts to effectively communicate the dangers of unhealthy living conditions and methods for their remediation.


LAC Environmental Health (EH) developed the Stepping Stones to a Healthy Home booklet to compliment the enforcements efforts of its Healthy Homes Inspection Program pilot initiative. The booklet was designed to be an additional tool for inspectors to use during inspections as well as an effective ďstand aloneĒ document for tenants to reference in the absence of an inspector. Developing the booklet consisted of three distinct phases:

1.                   Analysis of the target populationís demographic profile. Residents of high and moderate risk rental housing (characterized by repeated health and safety code violations) were identified as the target population.

2.                   Creation a booklet tailored to meet the target populationís demographic profile and that addressed EH related issues commonly affecting the home environment in LAC.

3.                   Focus group testing of the booklet in English and Spanish.


This approach to developing an effective and measured reference booklet incorporated readability assessment tools for both English and Spanish languages which helped to tailor its readability in matching the target populationís educational level. Focus group testing validated the bookletís strengths and identified areas where revisions were required. Moreover, focus group testing aided in determining the efficacy of the booklet as an inspection tool and a stand-alone reference document.