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Rubio Introduces Bill to Keep Children and Families Safe From Lead Hazards
Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Bill Hagerty (R-TN), and Raphael Warnock (D-GA) introduced the Keep Children and Families Safe From Lead Hazards Act, which would direct the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to identify and remediate risk exposure to lead hazards, including lead wall paint and lead drinking water service lines, in Section 8 housing programs.
Rubio’s bill follows his May 18, 2021 letter to U.S. Secretary Marcia Fudge, in which he raised concern about 29 properties throughout Florida that participate in the Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance (PBRA) program under HUD with failing Real Estate Assessment Center (REAC) scores. Many of these facilities were constructed prior to the 1978 ban on lead paint in residential housing. According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), approximately 6,300 children under the age of six currently live in the 205 out of 562 Section 8 PBRA properties in the State of Florida that may expose residents to lead.
“I first witnessed child lead poisoning at Eureka Gardens Apartments by the nefarious Global Ministries Foundation in 2016. The dangerous conditions at several HUD properties throughout the state of Florida, and the rest of the country, are the result of routine negligence and lack of oversight by HUD,” Rubio said. “Lead hazards pose a serious risk to tenants, especially young children and pregnant women. It is unacceptable for HUD to ignore this threat. My bipartisan bill would ensure that exposure risks are identified and mitigated, so that no family in HUD-assisted housing has to suffer any devastating effects of lead poisoning.”
“I’m glad to help steer this common sense effort to remediate risks – especially to young children and pregnant women – from lead-based paint and lead service line exposures in HUD-assisted housing in Tennessee,” Hagerty said. “I am pleased to join Senator Rubio on this important legislation and will continue working with him to ensure that no family has to suffer from the health risks brought on by lead poisoning.”
“I’ve long said housing is health care, especially during a pandemic,” Warnock said. “I’m proud to be co-leading this bipartisan bill which will improve public health for Georgians and Americans. We know that children with high levels of lead exposure grow up to have trouble learning and are more likely to develop a range of health problems as a result. The Keep Children and Families Safe from Lead Hazards Act will help to protect kids in Georgia and across the country—providing a crucial safeguard for our next generation and their bright future.”
Specifically, the legislation would direct HUD to:
- Conduct an annual risk assessment of Section 8 housing programs to identify risk exposure to lead hazards,
- Develop an action plan to remediate lead hazards,
- Require that lead hazards become a graded factor in Uniform Physical Condition Standards (UPCS) inspections,
- Require an annual report to Congress on all Section 8 properties with lead hazards that are home to children under the age of six.