- Not enactedThe President has not signed this bill
- The senate has not voted
Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs
- senate Committees
- The house has not voted
Committee on Financial ServicesIntroducedMarch 12th, 2019
- house Committees
What is House Bill H.R. 1690?
Cost of House Bill H.R. 1690
In-Depth: Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García (D-IL) introduced this bill to provide carbon monoxide detectors in Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) housing units:
“I am proud to introduce this straightforward, life-saving legislation, the Safe Housing for Families Act, alongside Rep. Cunningham (SC-01) and U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA). No one living in America, especially those in federal, public housing, should have to worry if they will die from carbon monoxide poisoning in their own homes. Nearly half of states, including Illinois, already require carbon monoxide monitors in residential units and the Safe Housing for Families Act ensures that those living in public housing, often communities of color, the elderly, and the economically disadvantaged, are protected from carbon monoxide poisoning.”
After this bill unanimously passed the House Financial Services Committee, Rep. García added, “No one should die in public housing because of our government’s failure to protect them with the simple installation of an inexpensive carbon monoxide detector.”
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), sponsor of this bill’s Senate companion and a candidate for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, adds:
“Housing is a human right. The federal government has an obligation to ensure that residents of public housing can raise their families in a safe and healthy environment. These are preventable tragedies. We must act now to get carbon monoxide detectors in HUD housing to protect the health and wellbeing of the millions who reside there.”
HUD Secretary Ben Carson has spoken favorably about this bill, as it expedites and funds a proposed rule announced he announced in April requiring carbon monoxide detectors to be installed on HUD housing. As an agency, HUD has acknowledged that cCongressional action is needed to implement the rule change quickly.
In a March 11, 2019 letter to HUD Secretary Carson, the National Housing Law Project, Public Justice Center, National Low Income Housing Coalition and a range of other housing and poverty advocacy organizations called on HUD to set standards to protect families from carbon monoxide exposure.
This legislation unanimously passed the House Financial Services Committee with the support of 29 Democratic House cosponsors. Its Senate companion, sponsored by Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), has one cosponsor, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT).
Of Note: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that over 400 people die of carbon monoxide poisoning in the U.S. every year. This includes 11 deaths from in HUD housing from 2003-March 2019, as reported by NBC News.
All rental housing subsidized by HUD is required to have smoke detectors; but the same rule doesn’t apply to federal government housing. After two residents died in the HUD-owned Allen Benedict Court public housing complex in Columbia, South Carolina on January 17, 2019, inspectors found high levels of carbon monoxide and natural gas in all 26 buildings at the complex, missing and broken smoke alarms, exposed wires, cockroach infestations, damaged ceilings, and a “high volume of rodent droppings.”
A HUD spokesman, Brian Sullivan, described the deaths as a tragedy and said the agency was considering changes to the entire HUD building inspection process, including new requirements related to carbon monoxide, as a result. However, he also suggested that focusing on HUD’s role was misguided, arguing that “[i]t is easier to pin the tail on the federal donkey than to hold the actual housing providers accountable for what goes on in the buildings.”
- Sponsoring Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García (D-IL) Press Release
- Sponsoring Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García (D-IL) Press Release After Committee Passage
- Senate Sponsor Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) Press Release
- CBO Cost Estimate
- National Housing Law Project & Others Letter (In Favor in Principle)
- NBC News (Context)
Summary by Lorelei Yang(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / sturti)