NCHH Endorses Title X Amendments Act and the Healthy Housing Council Act


COLUMBIA, MD (February 20, 2013) – On February 13th, 2013, Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Mike Johanns (R-NE) introduced two bills pertaining to healthy housing, the Title X Amendments Act and the Healthy Housing Council Act. The bipartisan bills seek to better integrate healthy housing activities into the ongoing lead poisoning prevention work at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and improve federal coordination of healthy housing efforts. The National Center for Healthy Housing (NCHH) praises Senator Reed’s and Senator Johanns’ initiative and commitment to presenting the bills to their esteemed colleagues and peers for bipartisan Congressional support.

“The introduction of the two bills reflects a much needed commitment to the creation of healthy, sustainable homes. NCHH will continue to seek support for such impactful and efficiency-minded legislation,” said Rebecca Morley, executive director of the National Center for Healthy Housing. “We commend Senators Reed and Johanns for continuing to take a strong role in bringing the nation’s focus to the importance of improving housing conditions throughout our neighborhoods.”

The Title X Amendments Act, S. 290, which is co-sponsored by Senators Al Franken (D-MN), and Barbara Boxer (D-CA), would permit HUD to continue to carry out healthy housing activities while protecting important ongoing lead remediation efforts, and streamline families’ eligibility for assistance. The amendments are necessary reforms designed to improve and expedite the delivery of cost-effective services, while aligning legislative authority with current needs and practices.

Technical amendments to Title X of the Housing and Community Development Act will accomplish major policy goals including:

  • Expand the existing Title X statute to enable other health and safety threats to be treated through the lead hazard control grant program at HUD.
  • Permit a healthy homes and lead hazard control grantee to use another program’s income and eligibility information to qualify for HUD lead and healthy homes funds.
  • Add a provision to include zero-bedroom units in HUD’s lead hazard control program.
  • Allow tribal governments to apply for funding, as well as non-profit organizations that have the support of state or local governments.

“NCHH recognizes that homes with lead-based paint hazards often pose other health and safety risks and that a holistic, coordinated approach is more cost effective and public health protective,” said Morley. “The amendments to Title X are a positive step in aiding those living with hazards such as lead, asthma triggers, radon, or pesticides. Continued support for the passing of this bill is needed to ensure the best possible outcome.” 
Additionally on February 13, 2013, Senators Reed and Johanns re-introduced the Healthy Housing Council Act, S. 291, with cosponsors Franken and Boxer. S. 291 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 secure the necessary services and preventive measures to combat these hazards.

“We are dedicated to providing the supporting research and tools required to make such an influential and focused group successful,” said Morley. “It is important that practitioners, policymakers, and other leaders from around the country work together to improve American housing conditions and the introduction of the Council bill is one step further in doing so.”

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

The bills were announced on the second day of NCHH’s 20th Anniversary Leadership Conference, which recognized the organization’s founding and continued pursuit of lead-safe and healthy housing.

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