Background: In response to feedback from a health forum, resident leaders of public housing in Washington, DC, were inspired to create a health survey for and by the residents.
Objective: The survey was designed to document residents' concerns about health, health care, and environmental threats. It also explored tobacco use and support for smoke-free housing.
Methods: A newly created Health Planning Committee of the Citywide Advisory Board, including residents, academics, and representatives of health and housing organizations, facilitated the creation of a health needs assessment. Questionnaires were initially mailed, then hand-delivered to every public housing household. More than 1,000 completed questionnaires have now been returned.
Lessons learned: This project highlights a model that places resident leaders in charge of health issues, including leading advocacy efforts for policies to reduce health disparities in public housing. It identifies research challenges and ways to overcome them and empowers the community for continued research.