Contact: Michelle Nicolet, Marketing Director
Emily Benfer, Health Justice Project
Today, Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Representatives Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) introduced companion bills, the Lead-Safe Housing for Kids Act of 2016, in the House and the Senate. These bills would strengthen risk assessments for lead in federally subsidized housing and lower the blood lead level at which intervention is required.
The new legislation proposals come after the Shriver Center and the Loyola Health Justice Project, in coalition with several other advocates, health providers, and public health experts, filed a citizens’ petition for rulemaking that urges HUD to amend its lead-based paint poisoning regulations. Over 14,000 members of the public have signed a petition launched last month in support of the petition for rulemaking.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), one of the nation’s largest providers of affordable housing, offers housing assistance to close to 5 million households; approximately one-third of those households include children. Yet HUD is decades behind in ensuring that HUD-funded housing does not expose children to lead. HUD’s current policies, developed during the Reagan administration, set lead poisoning levels at three to four times the rate of the Centers for Disease Control.
Families living in HUD-funded housing should not be forced to choose between the health and future of their children and their housing assistance.
We applaud Senator Durbin and his colleagues for acting to protect millions of children who rely on HUD for safe and secure housing, and we urge Congress to act swiftly to enact this important legislation.
The Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law provides national leadership in advancing laws and policies that secure justice to improve the lives and opportunities of people living in poverty. We specialize in practical solutions. We advocate for and serve clients directly, while also building the capacity of the nation’s legal aid providers to advance justice and opportunity for their clients. www.povertylaw.org
The Health Justice Project is a medical-legal partnership clinic between Loyola University Chicago School of Law and Erie Family Health Center, a Federally Qualified Health Center that serves over 60,000 low-income patients annually at 13 different locations around Chicago. Students of law, social work, public health and medicine enrolled in the clinic engage in interprofessional collaboration to identify and address social and legal issues that negatively affect the health of low-income individuals. http://luc.edu/law/centers/healthlaw/hjp/