Oct 13, 2014
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Families in two North Richmond homes are breathing easier after experts kick-started a free remediation initiative targeting properties that house children with asthma.

This year, the Berkeley-based Community Energy Services Corporation (CESC) is tasked with ridding 30 North Richmond homes of asthma triggers such as dust and mold as part of the Family Sustainability Project funded by Chevron Richmond.

“What we’re doing is we’re going into homes of children with asthma and working to make their homes as trigger-free as possible,” said Martin Bond, CESC executive director.

Chevron has pledged $295,000 toward the program this year and another $300,000 for more remediation projects in 2015, said Andrea Bailey, community engagement manager with Chevron Richmond.

The two homes that have already benefited from the free remediation had dust-friendly carpet flooring replaced with linoleum, Bond said. Other services included plumbing repairs, a ventilation retrofit and educational trainings.

CESC workers not only identify the problems but also conduct a wide range of construction services, including replacing a dry wall with mold, fixing a cracked window or cleaning filtered vacuums.

CESC, which partners with the Breathmobile, an RV that acts as a rolling asthma clinic, has also been visiting local schools and childcare centers such as Verde Elementary and Las Deltas to educate residents and to identify homes needing remediation.

One of the coolest aspects of the program is that some program staffers are themselves North Richmond residents. As part of the Family Sustainability Project, a holistic program addressing chronic unemployment as it relates to housing and healthcare access, neighborhood residents are being hired for a four-month job shadow program that will train them for careers in construction and administration.

The trainees are not only paid but receive health benefits, Bond said.

To date, there have been four trainees hired.  Two have completed their internship, and two are halfway through their respective positions in administration and construction.

“One is in the office doing paperwork, data processing, phone calls and outreach, while the other is in a construction technician role,” Bond said regarding the on-the-job training.

Trainees are provided laptops they can keep after the program ends in order to help them search for jobs in their new careers. Bond said CESC is seeking for more applicants from North Richmond.

As part of the 16-week program, trainees meet weekly to discuss professional development including resume building and interviewing and even take strength-finder tests to identify which jobs fit them best, said Joanna Perez-Green, CESC marketing manager.

“The goal is to have the interns skilled, confident and ready for work when they graduate,” Perez-Green said.

For more information, contact the folks at the Northern California Breathmobile, a program run by the Prescott-Joseph Center for Community Enhancement, Inc., at info@prescottjoseph.org.


About the Author

Mike Aldax is the editor of the Richmond Standard. He has 13 years of journalism experience, most recently as a reporter for the San Francisco Examiner. He previously held roles as reporter and editor at Bay City News, Napa Valley Register, Garden Island Newspaper in Kaua’i, and the Queens Courier in New York City.