Making the Business Case for Prevention: Smokefree Multiunit Housing - transcript

[Patrick Lee] We are always, as developers, looking for a marketing edge. And that
marketing edge will transfer into our properties getting leased up sooner.
[Laurie McGrath] We’ve consistently in the housing industry found that residents have
asked when we could ever go smoke-free.
[Kate Bennett] We were getting weekly transfer requests from residents who were trying
to get away from secondhand smoke.
[Meena Carr] Eighty-five percent of the residents agreed that we should go smoke-free.
[Washington Beech resident] It was awful. You could smell it as soon as you walk in the
front door.
[Laurie McGrath] When you look at the economic benefits, you can see it from the
resident perspective, from the building perspective, from the community perspective.
[Patrick Lee] We work in lots of communities that are predominantly low income. And
then at the other end of the spectrum, we develop market-rate housing. You have very
high-income people, and they too are choosing smoke-free housing. We decided that it
would be a marketing advantage to offer a property that was smoke-free housing.
[Kate Bennett] What’s been common across all of those projects is the degree to which
smoking and secondhand smoke is impacting residents.
[Meena Carr] I am sort of responsible for Boston housing going smoke-free, which came
about because my grandson was diagnosed with asthma.
[Kate Bennett] People’s personal testimony was probably one of the most powerful
things.
[Meena Carr] He started having these attacks when he would get up, and he say he
cannot breathe. You know so that really, it got to me. I asked them if they could make it
possible that the building be smoke-free.
[Laurie McGrath] Economically speaking, I think that smoke-free housing is a huge
benefit.
[Patrick Lee] We all know that when an apartment has been occupied by a smoker there
are all of the fumes that are within that unit.
Making the Business Case for Prevention: Smoke-free Multiunit Housing Page 2 of 2 March 2014
[Laurie McGrath] The turnover cost to repaint is fairly high, and we see reduced costs in
terms of HVAC systems, maintenance of HVAC systems.
[Kate Bennett] I’ve seen anywhere from $600 to $3,000 as a differential for turning over
that unit.
[Laurie McGrath] The biggest cost savings that we’ve seen is insurance. Because,
naturally, smoke-free housing we’d find a reduced insurance rate.
[Patrick Lee] It reduced the liabilities associated with fire hazards.
[Laurie McGrath] It’s a cost savings that we can pass on to the residents. It’s a cost
savings that we can utilize within the building, those monies.
[Boston Public Housing resident] I was for the non-smoking from day one. Even though
I was a smoker.
[Malik Carr] Once I’m away from the smoke, I don’t have any asthma problems.
[Meena Carr] He hasn’t had a serious attack that warranted us going to the hospital with
him.
[Patrick Lee] It’s a chance to support your residents so that they’re in a better position to
meet their lease commitments.
[Kate Bennett] We are just really trying to create healthier atmospheres inside the
buildings and move the smoke out. The beauty of this is that it doesn’t cost any money.
[Patrick Lee] It isn’t as hard as you might imagine.
[Laurie McGrath] Smoke-free housing is a win-win for the community, for the property,
for the residents.
[Patrick Lee] Yes, it’s wonderful that it’s been a financial benefit. Yes, it’s wonderful
that is has helped us market our properties more successfully. But healthier residents are
part of our communities. That’s the real, real benefit here.

 

Return to video page

Page last reviewed: December 13, 2017