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Introduction of the Lead Hazard Title X Amendments Act of 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Ms. SLAUGHTER. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to introduce the Lead Hazard Title X Amendments Act.

Although the prevalence of lead poisoning in children has dropped dramatically since the 1970s, the number of children suffering from lead poisoning remains unacceptably high. Over half a million children under the age of 6 in the Unites States, disproportionately from African-American or low-income communities, are suffering from elevated blood lead levels. There is no safe level of lead exposure for children, yet an estimated 37.1 million homes still have lead-based paint somewhere in the building.

Lead poisoning, which can occur at very low levels of exposure, causes brain damage in infants and toddlers, resulting in poor educational outcomes and widening the achievement gap. Lead poisoning robs children of IQ points, causes cognitive and behavioral issues, and a results in a lifetime of adverse health effects. Each year, lead poisoning costs the United States more than $50 billion in lost productivity. Educating children suffering from lead poisoning costs public school system special education programs an extra $38,000 per child every three years. When it costs less than that to eliminate lead from a home, it hardly makes sense that we permit any of our nation's children to be the victims of lead poisoning.

The bill I am introducing today, the Lead Hazard Title X Amendments Act, modernizes the Department for Housing and Urban Development's Lead Hazard Control Program. By making much needed updates to the program, we can better protect our children and allow for more efficient lead eradication from homes.

This Act will allow families living in all housing, including efficiency apartments, to be eligible for Lead Hazard Control grants. It will broaden the categories of eligible grant recipients, it will allow non-profit agencies and tribal governments to apply for lead abatement funds, and it will simplify the grant application process by allowing Lead Hazard Control grantees to use eligibility information from other government programs to qualify for funds. Finally, this Act will enable grantees already receiving Lead Hazard Control funding to easily and efficiently tap other resources for additional Healthy Housing repairs, including addressing asthma, carbon monoxide, and other safety concerns.

We cannot afford for any of our children not to reach their full potential. I urge my colleagues to stand with me to protect all our nation's children from lead poisoning.

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