Representatives García, Cunningham, and Senator Kamala Harris Introduce Safe Housing for Families Act

March 12, 2019
Press Release
A bill to protect families against carbon monoxide poisoning in public housing

Washington, DC– U.S. Representative Jesús “Chuy” García (IL-04), a member of the House Financial Services Committee which has jurisdiction of federal housing, and Representative Joe Cunningham (SC-01) on Tuesday introduced the Safe Housing for Families Act to provide carbon monoxide detectors in U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) housing units. Democratic Whip Clyburn along with Reps. Norton, Moore, Clarke, Velázquez, S. Maloney, Clay, Tlaib, Fudge, Rose, Cohen and others joined as original cosponsors.

Companion legislation will also be introduced today by Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA).

“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),” said Rep. García. “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.”

“Every parent deserves the peace of mind of knowing their children are safe when they tuck them in at night. This bill helps deliver that peace of mind among our most vulnerable by ensuring federally-assisted housing have carbon monoxide detectors,” said Rep. Cunningham. “The two senseless deaths at Benedict Allen Court apartments in Columbia, S.C. on January 17, 2019, could have been prevented and we have an urgent obligation to make sure such tragedies never happen again.”

“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,” said Sen. Harris. “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.”

In 2007, Illinois implemented requirements for detectors in residential buildings to prevent the silent and lethal effects of carbon monoxide poisoning. In a letter dated March 11, 2019, health professionals and housing advocates wrote to HUD Secretary Ben Carson calling for standards to protect families from exposure to carbon monoxide in their homes in the wake of recent deaths in federally-assisted housing. Recent reports shed light on this deadly issue that has taken the lives of 11 individuals in federally-assisted housing in recent years.

The Safe Housing for Families Act would require HUD to provide carbon monoxide detectors in public housing units. It would protect low-income residents from carbon monoxide poisoning and help prevent deaths in millions of homes across the country. More than 400 people die in the United States each year due to carbon monoxide poisoning, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.