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Public Statements

Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutions

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. REED. Mr. President, today I am introducing two bipartisan bills pertaining to healthy housing, the Healthy Housing Council Act and the Title X Amendments Act. These bills seek to improve federal coordination of healthy housing efforts and better integrate healthy housing activities into the ongoing lead poisoning prevention work at the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The presence of housing-related health hazards is often overlooked or is unable to be addressed, and yet these hazards are sometimes the cause of a variety of preventable diseases and conditions like cancer, lead poisoning, and asthma. While I have been working to address these hazards throughout my tenure in Congress, I was pleased that the Administration last week released its Strategy for Action to Advance Healthy Housing, a multi-department and agency effort to develop consensus-based criteria to address housing hazards that impact the health and habitation of children and families.

This new Strategy for Action calls on Federal agencies to address barriers and disincentives to the delivery of services to improve housing conditions, particularly among low-income families with young children; replicate successful local healthy housing programs on a larger scale; and conduct more research into cost-effective advances in healthy housing programming.

The Title X Amendments Act, S. 290, which I am introducing with Senators Johanns, Franken, and Boxer, and has been in the drafting stages for many months, responds to these calls for action. It would provide HUD with the necessary authority to continue to carry out healthy housing activities while protecting important ongoing lead remediation efforts, allow grantees to improve the conditions in zero-bedroom units, and streamline eligibility for assistance. These are simple, yet necessary reforms designed to improve and expand cost-effective services, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to see them enacted.

It is also vital that we continue the type of collaboration and coordination among Federal departments and agencies, like HUD, HHS, EPA, and CDC, that resulted in the Strategy for Action to Advance Healthy Homes. Indeed, there are many programs fragmented across multiple agencies that are responsible for addressing housing-related health hazards like lead and radon, and we should strive to improve the efficiency and efficacy of these efforts by ensuring that these agencies continue to work together.

The Healthy Housing Council Act, S. 291, which Senator Johanns, Franken, and Boxer have also cosponsored, would establish an independent interagency Council on Healthy Housing in the executive branch in order to improve coordination, bring existing efforts out of their respective silos, and reduce duplication.

The bill calls for the council to convene periodic meetings with experts in the public and private sectors to discuss ways to educate individuals and families on how to recognize housing-related health hazards and access the necessary services and preventive measures to combat these hazards. The council would also be required to hold biannual stakeholder meetings, maintain an updated website, and work to unify healthy housing data collection and maintenance.

Our goal for these bills is to help reduce the more than 5.7 million households living in conditions with moderate or severe health hazards, 23 million additional homes with lead-based paint hazards, 14,000 unintentional injury and fire deaths every year that result from housing-related hazards, and 21,000 radon-associated lung cancer deaths every year. Indeed, these numbers contribute to increasing health care costs for individuals and families, as well as for federal, state, and local governments.

Promoting low-cost measures to eliminate subpar housing can make a dramatic and meaningful difference in the lives of children and families and help reduce health care costs. I urge our colleagues to join in supporting these bipartisan bills.

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