Congressman Joe Cunningham today introduced legislation with Rep. Chuy García (D-IL) to help prevent carbon monoxide-related deaths. The Safe Housing for Families Act would require that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provide carbon monoxide detectors in public housing units.
In January, two men died in a public housing complex in Columbia, SC due to carbon monoxide poisoning, and more than 400 residents lost their homes. Carbon monoxide poisoning has led to at least 11 deaths in HUD housing since 2003. This legislation would protect low-income residents from carbon monoxide poisoning and help prevent deaths in millions of homes across the country.
“Every parent deserves the peace of mind of knowing their children are safe when they tuck them in at night," Rep. Cunningham said. "This bill helps deliver that peace of mind among our most vulnerable by ensuring federally-assisted housing units have carbon monoxide detectors. The two senseless deaths at Benedict Allen Court apartments in Columbia could have been prevented and we have an urgent obligation to make sure such tragedies never happen again.”
Housing advocates and public health experts suggest that in spite of the clear dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning, HUD has been slow to provide protections for these families. In some cases, the health and safety hazards are so severe that residents in affected areas are forced out of their homes. A majority of the 4.6 million families receiving public housing assistance from HUD are people with disabilities, the elderly, or families with young children, making them especially vulnerable to toxic environments.
Companion legislation has also been introduced in the Senate.