Earlier this year, Allen County, with the help of the Hospital Council of Northwest Ohio, surveyed the residents to gain information about health-related data and from those results, priority areas were determined. These priorities are created based on community needs and developed through deliberation between multiple community agencies and members. One of those priority areas is Transportation, Housing and Tobacco Use. Over the last few weeks we discussed and looked at each of these priority areas. These areas have included Mental Health, Maternal and Infant Health Outcomes and Wellness/Chronic Disease. This week, we will turn our attention to Transportation, Housing and Tobacco Use in Allen County.
Throughout the remainder of 2017 and into 2018, the goals around Transportation, Housing and Tobacco include to increase access to healthier and safer modes of transportation, improve access to affordable quality housing and increase the number of tobacco-free workplaces and public spaces in Allen County. There are multiple groups and task forces that are working hard to reach our goals. These groups include the Bike and Pedestrian Task Force, the Allen County Housing Consortium, the Allen County Tobacco Coalition and the FACTS Coalition. If you wish to join any of these groups or have questions about what these task forces do, please contact us via the Activate Allen County website (activateallencounty.com). We would be happy to connect you to the proper person and plug you in.
While there have been many success around Transportation, Housing and Tobacco in Allen County, there is still much to do. According to the most recent health assessment data, we have seen a decrease in the number of overall smokers in our county — from 22 percent down to currently 18 percent of adults who smoke. However, data shows that income plays a role in who is smoking with 30 percent of smokers making less than $25,000 per year, while only 14 percent of smokers make more than $25,000 per year. Forty-three percent of Allen County adults would support an ordinance to make parks and ballfields smoke free. Through this assessment, we also gained information about the downtown neighborhoods that spend 30 percent or more of their income on housing as well as those households that do not have a vehicle. This information is vital as we plan programs and where to put assistance at. We also gained information through multiple Community Focus Groups. One comment that we heard from a resident concerning housing was: “The landlord is there just to collect the money and not to take care of properties. … How do we keep landlords accountable?” All of this data becomes very valuable to us as we move forward with planning.
As you can see, we need to continue our efforts around Transportation, Housing and Tobacco in Allen County. We have seen improvements, but there is still work to do! We ask that you all consider how you may be able to get involved and there are many ways you can do that. You can join a task force mentioned above, try to commute by foot, bike or bus when possible, support policies that protect residents from secondhand smoke (like tobacco-free parks), and use our great walking and biking trails throughout the county. It will take all of us, working together, to continue to improve the health of the residents in Allen County. For more information about the County Health Assessment or Improvement Plan, please call the Activate Allen County office at 419-221-5035.