Greener Guidance: Outreach to Renters

Dec 20, 2019 | Michelle Shapiro

Note: Greener Guidance is NACCHO’s environmental health advice column. See past columns here. Submit a question here.

December 2019

Dear Greener Guidance,

I work on environmental health and specifically rodent control at the local government level. We’re looking to increase education and outreach to our residents about rodent prevention, specifically targeting the many renters who live in our city as much of our previous outreach was mostly only used by property owners. What are some education strategies that are successful in reaching renters?

– Ridding the Renters of Rodents

Dear Ridding,

John H. Larch III, MPA, PE, CFM, on the Board of Health for the Cumberland County Health Department in Fayetteville, NC, offers the following outreach advice:

I work full-time with a local storm water program. Part of our work includes educational outreach to help reduce surface water pollution.

We have worked with local utilities to include a small informational insert in utility bills to spread our message. We have found this to be effective at reaching the people actually living at a given address, since they typically pay the utility bills even if they aren’t the property owner.

We also set-up an informational booth at community events. You may want to see if there is a block party, outdoor festival, etc. that takes place near some of the apartment complexes you are trying to provide information too.

Another idea might be to see if there is a local association of property managers that could distribute your message in a monthly newsletter or provide materials at a meeting. These groups may even let you speak for a few minutes at a luncheon.

Also, we spoke with one of NACCHO’s program analysts who works on our tobacco program, which includes communicating to renters about smoke-free housing. Based on this work, she recommends:

  • forming community/resident coalitions,
  • posting fliers and advertisements in the apartment buildings,
  • reaching out to landlords to contact renters,
  • putting the policies into resident leases, and
  • putting educational pamphlets in mailboxes.

Lastly, for more rodent control-specific guidance, we point you to a rodent control resource from NACCHO. In 2015, NACCHO and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducted a study to understand the current capacity of local rodent control programs across the United States. We assessed nine local rodent control programs to identify best practices, challenges, and technical assistance needs. This document presents an overview of the findings, as well as case studies summarizing each program.


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About Michelle Shapiro

Michelle Shapiro is a communication specialist for the Environmental Health & Disability team at NACCHO.

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