National Safe and Healthy Housing Coalition

The National Safe and Healthy Housing Coalition is a broad, voluntary coalition of over 300 organizations working to improve housing conditions nationwide through education and outreach to key national stakeholders and federal public decision-makers. The Coalition promotes policies for safe and healthy housing in the United States, with special emphasis on those who are disproportionately impacted.

Preserve EPA Funding for Lead Poisoning Prevention

In Washington, DC, and across the country, there has been significant concern about the downsizing of the Environment Protection Agency. The National Safe and Healthy Housing Coalition feels that we must specifically respond to the media reports of upcoming cuts to programs that focus on lead. 

Today, a letter (available here) regarding lead poisoning prevention programs was sent to Scott Pruitt, EPA Administrator, signed by over 520 organizations and individuals. Early next week, the Coalition will also send a letter to key members of Congress regarding lead poisoning prevention funding at HUD, EPA, and CDC. We hope you will consider signing that letter as well. Special thanks to coalition members at EDF, HBBF, GHHI, LEHA, and NCHH for their work in drafting this letter, to all who signed, and all who helped pull this together.



Letter Text:

Mr. Scott Pruitt, Administrator
Office of the Administrator, Mail Code 1101A
Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20460

April 20, 2017

Dear EPA Administrator Pruitt:

The recent memorandum prepared by David Bloom, Acting Chief Financial Officer of the EPA, calls for the elimination of two programs critical to protecting the nation’s children from lead poisoning. This contradicts the very goal stated by the President to repair crumbling communities and lift the trajectory of America’s families. As you prepare your final budget proposal, we urge you to reverse this course and restore full funding for these programs. Not only is lead poisoning entirely preventable, investing in stopping it protects families and saves money.

We represent thousands of organizations, parents, business leaders, and professionals working to end childhood lead poisoning, advance educational outcomes, and reduce long-term public and private costs. Currently, well over 500,000 children in this country have excessive levels of lead in their bodies, which causes neurological damage, behavior problems, and undermines their long-term learning, future earnings, and health. Yet we know how to fix the problem and eliminate this tragic and costly disease once and for all. 

The two EPA programs proposed for elimination are the $2.6 million Lead Risk Reduction Program and the $14 million lead categorical grants to states. These programs support science-based standards in defining lead hazards that are necessary to protect pregnant women and vulnerable children; they require lead-safe work practices during renovation, repair, and painting; and they ensure that consumers seeking lead inspection, abatement, and risk assessment services can find qualified, trained individuals to do the work properly. 

Taxpayers already absorb the economic costs of childhood lead poisoning, estimated at $50.9 billion per year. And families, children, and communities across the country bear the social, educational, and medical costs of children with learning disabilities, brain damage, aggressive behavior, and long-term health problems. Parents sometimes are forced to spend thousands of dollars more to clean up contaminated homes caused by poor work practices. In short, the threatened EPA programs help to ensure that contractors work safely and they are a wise investment in our future—our children. 

The EPA’s memorandum suggests that state and local agencies can somehow step in and provide more effective services, but the evidence is clear that this is simply wishful thinking at best. If these programs are eliminated, training, consumer education, compliance assistance, and enforcement will falter, and children will be harmed needlessly.

The nation’s efforts to address childhood lead poisoning are led by EPA, HUD, and CDC, each with their own strengths and duties. This three-legged stool has worked well and childhood blood lead levels have declined by over 90% since the 1990s; but with over half a million children who still have high blood lead levels, there is much more to be done. Instead of pulling the rug out and eliminating these programs, EPA should help deliver on the nation’s promise to end lead poisoning in a few short years. 

At HUD, Secretary Ben Carson proposed to increase the funding for its lead hazard control program. But those programs (and other HUD home repair programs) rely on the qualified, trained abatement contractors and home renovators that the EPA lead programs ensure. Similarly, CDC works with healthcare providers to identify and protect poisoned children, but that means there must be access to qualified contractors properly trained to fix the problem.

For every dollar spent on controlling lead hazards, taxpayers see a return-on-investment of at least $17. Countless studies have demonstrated this high return. One needs to look no further than the Flint debacle—a disaster caused by a shortsighted scheme, supposedly to save money, that in fact will cost millions more to clean up—to see that programs protecting our children should be among the new Administration’s top priorities. It makes good business sense, it makes good public health and environmental policy, and it’s the right thing to do.

We hope that you will join HUD Secretary Carson and increase (not decrease) funding for the Administration’s lead poisoning prevention programs. As you consider your final budget request, we urge you to retain and fund the EPA lead risk reduction and renovation, repair, and painting programs.

Sincerely,

Dr. David Jacobs
Chief Scientist
National Center for Healthy Housing
Columbia, MD

Amanda Reddy
National Safe and Healthy Housing Coalition
Columbia, MD

Ruth Ann Norton
President and CEO
Green & Healthy Homes Initaitive
Baltimore, MD

Charlotte Brody, RN
National Director
Healthy Babies Bright Futures
Washington, DC

Steve Weil
Association Manager
Lead and Environmental Hazards Association
Olney, MD

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Related: Read NCHH's blog on the subject, "Threats or Promises: Which Way for the Trump Administration on Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention?"

Join the Find It, Fix It, Fund It Action Drive to Eliminate Lead Poisoning!

The National Center for Healthy Housing and the steering committee of the National Safe and Healthy Housing Coalition are thrilled to announce the release of Find it, Fix It, Fund It, a bold new action drive to eliminate lead poisoning.

Please join the drive.

  • Click here to sign up to participate in the drive and/or add your organization’s logo to it.
  • Click here to sign a petition supporting the drive’s principles in to Congress and federal agencies.
  • Click here to see the declaration supporting the Find It, Fix It, Fund It principles signed by the over 300 attendees at the Lead and Healthy Housing Conference on May 5, 2016.
  • We’d love your feedback on the drive. Email Julie Kruse to provide feedback!

NSHHC Webinar Features Healthy Housing for Older Adults

Our latest NSHHC quarterly webinar (June 7, 2016) focused on healthy housing for older adults. View it here.

NSHHC's Hill Day

Healthy Housing Hill Day was February 10, 2016, in Washington, DC 

Annually, NSHHC’s Hill Day works to raise the profile of healthy homes issues and recommend full funding for three crucially important federal programs - CDC's Healthy Homes and Lead Poisoning Prevention Program, HUD's Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes, and CDC's National Asthma Control Program.

Having constituents on hand to share their personal experiences with home-based hazards, describe the work they conduct for healthy homes programs, or explain the ways that healthy homes programs have helped them in the state and/or district they represent, is what truly personalizes the issue for members of Congress. You are the people your member of Congress represents and cares deeply about; hearing from you is what really matters. 

Read about the February 10, 2016, Hill Day in Washington, DC.

Read about the March 17, 2015, Hill Day in Washington, DC.

Join Our Advocacy Efforts Today

It’s not too late! Sign on TODAY to double federal lead poisoning prevention funding!
The National Safe and Healthy Housing Coalition’s sign-on letter to Congress for federal lead poisoning prevention funding increases was recently sent to over 200 Hill staff. This year’s letter had over 140 signatories, and it’s not too late to add more. We’ll be reposting the letter online with new signatories periodically and resending it to the Hill in the fall. Click here to sign on today.

Read more about appropriations.

What’s Involved in Participating

Quarterly Coalition meetings offer updates on progress with the Policy Agenda and allied efforts and usually feature a guest speaker on a topic related to the Coalition’s policy priorities. Regular email communications are sent to all Coalition members, often with action items for consideration. One meeting every other year is designated the “biennial meeting” for elections and other Coalition business.

The main methods for advancing the agenda of the Coalition are through the workgroups and individual advocacy. Workgroup membership is open to all Coalition members; get involved by contacting their chairpersons or assigned staff. Workgroups function through conference calls, with DC-area members and staff attending in-person meetings in Washington, DC, as needed.  

Joining the Coalition is free. The Coalition seeks member organizations that represent the diversity of the safe and healthy housing community, will contribute to and support the National Safe and Healthy Housing Coalition policy agenda, and will actively help to achieve the purpose and goals of the Coalition. More than one person from an organization can receive email, but there should be a designated representative and alternate from each organizational member. The Coalition also welcomes individual members who are not affiliated with a member organization.

Ready to join the Coalition? Sign up. If you have any questions about membership, please contact Julie Kruse.

How the Coalition Works

The Coalition adopts an annual policy agenda and participates in allied efforts as opportunities arise. The Coalition’s work groups, which conduct activities in support of the policy agenda, are organized around legislative priorities, Medicaid and Affordable Care Act issues, and codes and standards. The work group leaders communicate with the Coalition’s steering committee and the Coalition coordinator; facilitate work group meetings; provide direction to develop goals, objectives, and action plans; and engage in active and ongoing communication with work group participants to fulfill the work group’s objectives.

A 12-15 member steering committee provides leadership and direction to the Coalition and takes positions or make statements on its behalf. Member organizations may request that their names not be listed on any Coalition statements. As the fiscal and administrative agent for the Coalition, NCHH serves as the Coalition coordinator and plans Coalition meetings with input from the steering committee.