Jacksonville’s Congressmen Take Up Marco Rubio’s ‘Keep Children and Families Safe From Lead Hazards Act’

Jacksonville’s congressmen–U.S. Reps. Al Lawson, D-Fla., and John Rutherford, R-Fla.–took up U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio’s, R-Fla., proposal “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.’

In September, Rubio introduced the “Keep Children and Families Safe From Lead Hazards Act” with the support of U.S. Sens. Bill Hagerty, R-Tenn., and Raphael Warnock, D-Ga. Back in May, Rubio wrote U.S. HUD Sec. Marcia Fudge on the matter, pointing to almost 30 properties across the Sunshine State with problems associated with 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.”

The bill “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, and require an annual report to Congress on all Section 8 properties with lead hazards that are home to children under the age of six.”

Rubio’s bill was sent to the U.S. Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee.

Lawson introduced the companion measure on Wednesday with Rutherford as the only co-sponsor.

“Every family deserves to live in a home that is free of danger, yet far too many households are detrimentally impacted by lead poisoning,” Lawson said. “Our residents should not have to worry about the risk of lead exposure and the harmful impact this hazardous toxin can cause. The Keep Children and Families Safe From Lead Hazards Act will raise the standard of federally-assisted housing by enforcing accountability and improving the living conditions for our most vulnerable citizens. I am pleased to work with Rep. Rutherford on this critical legislation to protect the safety and health of North Florida’s children and families.”

“It is inexcusable that some living in public housing have experienced dangerous levels of lead exposure, threatening their health and safety,” Rutherford said. “I am proud to join a bipartisan coalition working to hold HUD accountable for any lead-based hazards in their facilities. Thank you to Rep. Lawson for leading this important effort.”

Lawson’s bill was sent to the U.S. House Financial Services Committee last week.

Kevin Derby
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