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The Miami Valley Fair Housing Center investigates low life expectancy in West Dayton

A neighborhood in Dayton, Ohio
Alejandro Figueroa
A neighborhood in Dayton, Ohio

The Miami Valley Fair Housing Center (MVFHC) is holding environmental listening sessions to determine why life expectancy is lower in West and Northwest Dayton.

The second listening session will be held today at the West Branch Metro Library from 5:45 to 7:45 p.m..

The listening sessions will provide West and Northwest Dayton residents with a space to address environmental factors impacting their health.

John Zimmerman, the Vice President of the Miami Valley Fair Housing Center, says that the Dayton and Montgomery County Public Health Department has found a significant life expectancy difference across Dayton.

"The life expectancy in lots of the west side is around 67 years of age, whereas, 6 miles away, say in Oakwood, it's 84. So, the question is, were there environmental factors that impacted that?"

According to the Community Health Assessment by the Dayton and Montgomery County Public Health Department, between 2018 and 2020, the life expectancy in the zip code 45417 was 67.7. Comparatively, the life expectancy in the nearby 45419 was 80.1.

There is also a big difference in infant mortality. The Community Health Assessment found that between 2017 and 2021, the death rate in 45417 was 16.3 per 1,000 live births. However, in 45419, the death rate was 2.5 per 1,000 live births.

The MVFHC hopes that the listening sessions will help identify what environmental factors may contribute to this significant difference in health between areas of Dayton. Environmental factors include air pollution, nearby toxic sites, water quality, transportation, access to parks or walking paths, or exposure to lead paint.

The environmental listening sessions are part of the MVFHC's three-year Environmental Justice Program. This year, the MVFHC will work with sociology students from Sinclair College to gather data from West and Northwest Dayton residents. Residents can report environmental issues impacting their communities by attending listening sessions or responding to surveys.

Next year, the MVFHC will analyze the data and identify critical areas of concern. The following year, the MVFHC will work with public officials and community advocates to address concerns.

The program is one part of a grant that the MVFHC received from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The $1,275,000 grant will pay for the Environmental Justice Program and four other programs that fight against housing discrimination and help people find affordable housing.

Zimmerman encourages people who have lived in west or northwest Dayton within the past decade to attend.

"The goal we have is to gather information about any environmental issues that might have happened over decades in the ten zip codes on the west side of Dayton."

The zipcodes under investigation are 45405, 45406, 45408, 45416, 45417, 45418, 45427, 45428, and 45402. 45402 now includes the area that used to be 45407.

People can sign up for the environmental listening session at http://www.mvfairhousing.com/westlistening

View the Dayton and Montgomery County Public Health Community Health Assessment at