Public housing, Bedok - Credit: Alan-L/

While the idea of public housing is, at its core, an excellent idea, the execution of buildings across the globe have been less than successful for a number of reasons. Mostly, crime and poverty run rampant in public housing units, and it is often hard (if not impossible) to control because of the renters living in the public housing units. However, those aren’t the only issues faced by public housing units, and public health and safety boards are starting to wake up to the fact that air quality is a major issue.

Public housing units are often large, non-profit, government-owned buildings. Maintenance and upkeep is hard, and the quality of living spaces suffer immensely because of it. Any apartment building or complex is often difficult to maintain because of the large scale of the building space and the number of people housed in the unit.

Indoor air quality issues stem from building issues. Mold buildup, poor ventilation and poor building materials used can all contribute to a indoor air quality issues. And one of the biggest contributors to poor ambient air are the smokers living in public housing units.

Now, this has sparked some serious debates across the United States. Because public housing units are, essentially, personal residents, those who live in the units are against the ban on smoking because it is their homes. However, because the buildings are usually government or state owned, they have a right to implement smoking bans on the buildings just as they do in restaurants, bars, etc. But, how would you feel if you weren’t even allowed to smoke in your own home?

The problem of indoor air quality problems in public housing could possibly be solved without banning smoking (though that would obviously help) by implementing standard air filtration units in each building. Dealing with smoke is one thing, but mold is just as life-threatening and can be treated with proper air ventilation and filtration.

Public housing was created to help those who were less fortunate in life and needed a place to live, and yet we are providing them with dangerous, unhealthy living spaces. It’s time we stepped up and provided the standard of living we’d expect in a middle- to upper-class home. Don’t we all deserve that?