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National NIFA and HUD webinar shares UF/IFAS Extension Homeflow program

UF/IFAS Extension agents will present Homeflow, a program that teaches families how to build healthy relationships, maintain their home and establish financial safety on an upcoming national webinar.

The program is presented in partnership with the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to celebrate National Healthy Homes Month this June and is free to attend.

Homeflow provides families with strategies to improve the health of their home. This includes the common key elements of a healthy home, such as financial health, air quality in the home and meal planning, but also incorporates an element often forgotten – relationships.

Johanna Gomez, Jennifer Hagen, Nelly Nelson and Jenny Rodriguez, family and consumer sciences agents for UF/IFAS Extension, will discuss their county Homeflow programming and the relationships with community stakeholders with whom they offer the program.

“Research suggests that U.S. families spend an average of 90% of their time indoors but less than 15% of their time interacting with one another as a family unit,” Gomez said. “We teach families to maximize the time they have together to improve communication and resolve conflict. We encourage them to share chores, have game nights, go on walks together and do things that do not cost money but have a meaningful impact in creating stronger families. If we involve the kids in these healthy behaviors, they will continue them as they grow into adulthood and create a healthy cycle.”

The program has reached over hundreds of participants over the past year and participants report improved changes in the operation of their home as well as in their relationships.

“Going beyond basic home maintenance and safety practices to introducing communication skills, conflict resolution and daily rituals to foster the well-being of the occupants of the home is what makes this curriculum different,” Hagen said. “Homeflow is a great tool for households to simplify their home living situation. It includes research-based information, practice activities and worksheets to assist you in tracking your home flow skills.”

“The workshops are engaging and create hope and connection,” said Rodriguez. “Over the past year, many families experienced financial hardship, and Homeflow strategies helped them reorganize their finances and get back on their feet.”

Randy Cantrell, an associate professor in the UF/IFAS family, youth and community sciences department, co-developed the Homeflow program with Victor Harris, another associate professor in the department, and Sarah Ellis, a UF/IFAS Extension Citrus County agent. The program is delivered across the state, but with NIFA and HUD’s support, agents have expanded the program to reach broader audiences and collaborate with Habitat for Humanity and Title I schools.

“It takes a village to keep a healthy home and these partnerships help us reach those that can benefit from this program the most,” Gomez said.

The program is taught in Spanish and English.

Anyone interested in taking the Homeflow course or delivering Homeflow is encouraged to attend the webinar on June 24. To register for the program or for more information, visit the National Center for Healthy Housing website.