'Smoke Free' Trail Blazing

Homeport Manager To Participate In Indoor Air Quality Forum

When Brenda Moncrief began Homeport’s “smoke free” initiative a year ago she did not foresee the accolades or opportunities that would result.

“I never would have thought I would be doing a video or that I would be sitting on a panel of experts on indoor air quality,” said Moncrief, a Homeport Asset Management manager.

But that is exactly what has happened.

In August she was interviewed for a video being produced by the Ohio Department of Health in conjunction with its efforts to reduce chronic diseases.

Oct. 20, Moncrief will be one of seven panelists at a forum called, “Indoor Air Quality: Bridging Health and Housing.” The forum will be 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the auditorium of Columbus Public Health, 240 Parsons Avenue, Columbus. Open to the general public and health professionals, the event is being organized by the Ohio Healthy Homes Network.

“[Moncrief] was mentioned by Amber Jones of the Columbus Health Department as a great example of a collaborate effort in creating smoke free housing,” said Healthy Homes Network coordinator Patricia Barnes. “I thought it was really exciting when I heard Homeport was going to do it across all its properties.”

Jones will be joining Moncrief on the panel along with other county and state health officials, a pulmonary medicine physician from Nationwide Children’s Hospital, and the commissioner of the Division of Environment for the city of Cleveland.

Homeport rolled out its smoke free program a year ago after considering options for two years. It began with the opening of the Trabue Crossing community on the Far West side of Columbus. Smoke free policies now extend to all five of its senior communities, as well as Victorian Heritage community near Ohio State University. The 39 single family lease-option homes soon to be constructed on the West Side’s Hilltop will also be smoke free.

In no smoking presentations, residents are made aware of classes to help them break their addiction if they choose. Presentations are made jointly by Moncrief and Jones of the Health Department, with the emphasis on the danger of smoking and impact on neighbors. Individuals who fail to follow the rules are given warning and counseling. Of the 360 Homeport homes the rules apply to now, only one Homeport resident has chosen to leave rather than face eviction.

“To see people embrace the change has been very encouraging,” Moncrief said. “There are always some smokers you have to convince that they are doing the right thing, quitting smoking. It’s been more positive than negative. The smokers say, ‘Maybe this is the time to stop.’”

As for the personal opportunities to be seen as on the forefront of change, Moncrief said: “I had no idea it would get this big. I just thought it would be part of my routine work. But it reaffirms to me that I am doing something right.”

Jones, the Columbus Public Health program planner, said she is impressed with Moncrief.

“It has been an honor and privilege to collaborate with Homeport. And Brenda has been phenomenal in her support for healthy housing and clean environments for the communities of which we serve,” Jones said.