House Democrats Propose $25 Million Upgrade to Public Housing Safety

A $25 million grant program championed by the House Appropriations Committee hopes to improve the safety measures in public housing like installing effective carbon dioxide detectors.

The proposal comes on the heels of several investigations into the inadequate safety measures in housing overseen by Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Secretary of Department of Housing and Urban Development, Ben Carson, speaks with press in front of a HUD housing development. Photo Courtesy of New York Times

Representative David Price of New York, who works as the committee’s head of housing said carbon monoxide monitors were a priority for the committee. “Carbon monoxide is a widespread hazard — perhaps more widespread than we had known,” said Price. Housing authorities“ought to be paying attention to this as a possible hazard, and now there is a federal program that encourages and helps them,” he said.

Local public housing authorities can apply for federal grants to help upgrade the safety measures in their buildings, like installing new carbon monoxide detectors and removing asbestos.

Roughly 4.6 families live in HUD housing and 13 residents have died as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning since 2003, even though HUD does not require detectors be installed in homes.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development said it plans to require carbon monoxide detectors and has allocated $5 million to pay for the installation process but no proposal has been put forth by the agency at the time of this article.

The $25 million proposal would go towards the Public Housing Capital Fund, a fund to modernize and improve public housing in the United States. If passed, it would increase the exiting $2.775 billion fund by $80 million. President Trump and his administration has proposed eliminating the fund entirely.