Staff training

Build success by training staff on how to effectively share information about the policy and the importance of consistent enforcement.

What we learned

More than 85% of surveyed public housing authority (PHA) executive directors reported that their staff received specific training on the smoke-free policy and how to identify and report violations.

—Source: Early Adopter Study

Planning for success

During the planning period, develop the training, and schedule training sessions to prepare housing staff to effectively share information about the policy and to ensure that they recognize the importance of consistent enforcement.

More about Policy planning.

Key information for staff

Educate staff about the policy’s purpose and its requirements. The Resident information sheet may provide a useful summary. It can also serve as an enforcement tool for housing staff when addressing violations.

“It takes the whole staff, including maintenance, groundskeepers, assistant managers, everybody. You have to show that you really mean that there’s no smoking on the property. If everybody’s on board, the tenants will adhere to the policy.”
(PHA staff member)

Staff may benefit from this additional information:

  • The policy will help protect the health of housing staff, as well as its residents. One-third (34%) of adult residents in public housing smoke, which is more than twice the rate of smoking in the general population (15%), putting themselves, neighbors, and housing staff at increased risk of health problems from secondhand smoke.1 A reduction in smoking will have a positive effect on resident and staff health.
  • Residents often mistakenly believe that the policy requires smokers to quit. The policy is “smoke-free,” not “smoker free.”
  • Tobacco dependence is one of the hardest addictions to break. Maintaining a compassionate attitude will help residents feel supported and respected.
  • Violation of the smoke-free policy should be handled the same as other lease violations, for example, quiet hours or pets.
  • Smoke-free policies reduce maintenance costs and make it easier to clean and turn over units. HUD’s Regulatory Impact Analysis estimates that smoke-free policies will save an average of between $16 million to $38 million per year in reduced maintenance, and the reduced fire risk will save $38 million across all HUD PHAs.

Promote consistent enforcement

Housing staff are responsible for investigating reports of policy violations and for including policy violation checks during routine work and maintenance. Consistent enforcement is necessary to maximize compliance.

“When we have staff meetings, we should be talking about this, looking for input from different sides, whether you’re the housekeeper or you work for maintenance. That way we hold everyone accountable. Staff interact with residents; maybe those relationships are key….When you brainstorm, when you collaborate, you come up with creative strategies.”
(Resident service coordinator)

Trainings should provide staff with clear guidance on:

  • Which staff roles are responsible for enforcement (some staff may be more effective as resident allies with limited enforcement requirements—for example, resident service coordinators)
  • How to include policy violation checks during routine work and maintenance
  • How to respond to resident reports of possible violations
  • What evidence of a violation is required

During training sessions, present and discuss information about the enforcement process:

  • Steps in the process
  • Required documentation

Encourage staff to talk through how to respond to potential situations of residents violating the policy and discuss how best to respond to likely scenarios.

Ensure that staff training is ongoing

Offer check-ins or refresher trainings with staff to provide opportunities to troubleshoot problem situations. Ongoing support and training are important for consistent enforcement and effective implementation, as well as to address any new issues that emerge, even years after the policy has been adopted.

  • Determine how new staff will be trained
  • Bring staff together on a regular basis to discuss the implementation process, share their experiences, identify emerging issues, and troubleshoot challenging situations

Resources

Download Staff training as a PDF

Foundations for a Successful Smoke-Free Policy (A training for people who work in public housing) (Smokefree Public Housing Project)
smokefreepublichousingproject.org/resource_pdf_docs/1539716824_Foundations_for_a_Successful_Smoke-Free_Policy.pdf

PHA Staff Tips (HUD)
www.hud.gov/sites/documents/1_HUD_SMOKEFREE_TIPS.PDF

The Impact of Secondhand Smoke (Truth Initiative)
https://truthinitiative.org/news/impact-secondhand-smoke

1 Helms, V., King, B., Ashley, P. Cigarette smoking and adverse health outcomes among adults receiving federal housing assistance. Preventive Medicine Vol. 99 June 2017 pgs. 170-177.

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