Tell Congress to pass the Lead-Safe Housing for Kids Act of 2016

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    Tell Congress to pass the Lead-Safe Housing for Kids Act of 2016

    Across the US, predominantly Black and low-income communities are at dire risk of severe health problems caused by lead poisoning. Despite this, Congress has been hesitant to act and pass legislation that would protect families and children who are at risk of lead exposure in public housing. Without Congressional action, the efforts of the Department of Housing and Urban Development to adopt stronger standards that shield families from lead poisoning will be undermined. TheLead-Safe Housing for Kids Act of 2016 is courageous policy that will bridge the gaps in lead poisoning prevention efforts. But before it can be effective, Congress needs to act.

    This is the letter we'll send to members of the House and Senate:

    Dear Congressperson, 

    I’m writing you as the Executive Director of We're the nation’s largest online civil rights organization with more than one million people working for positive social change and racial progress. I'm writing because it is imperative that you take action on the epidemic of lead poisoning ravaging the country. Sponsored by Senators Durbin (IL) and Menendez (NJ) and Representatives Ellison (MN), Quigley (IL), Lawrence (PA), and Kildee (MI), the Lead-Safe Housing for Kids Act of 2016 will give the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) the long overdue authority. This bill comes at a time when communities from New York to Cleveland to Baltimore to Chicago are reeling from the impacts of lead poisoning. The dangers are widespread, pernicious, and enduring. Due to lax standards, budgetary problems, and service gaps, families who are most at risk and most afflicted by lead poisoning are failed time and time again. This bill represents an opportunity to rectify that trend and empower institutions like HUD to wholly fulfill their mission to support and protect those families most in need of assistance.

    HUD has reported that more than 2 million homes contain both a lead dust hazard and a child under 6-years-old. The CDC estimates that over 500,000 children have elevated levels of lead in their blood. And a child reportedly can be poisoned by as little as 10 milligrams of lead, leading to brain damage or death. Changes to the status quo must go beyond restoring funding for essential lead poisoning prevention programs, and ensure that proper standards are implemented. Lead poisoning threatens not only the ongoing health of children and their families, but exacerbates societal ills which degrade the fabric of our nation. There is no reason to delay passing legislation that addresses the threat of lead poisoning. Not only does each dollar invested in lead paint hazard control results in a return of $17, but doing so will immeasurably improve the lives of families across the nation.

    Millions of children have been irrevocably harmed by exposure to lead paint and other toxins in their homes. This often occurs in majority Black and low-income communities, left vulnerable to pollution due to racism and discrimination which constrains their social mobility and economic opportunity. Due to these factors, Black people often rely on social support programs to bridge the gap in affordable housing, comprising 45% of low-income public housing inhabitants. Yet studies indicate 35% of all low-income housing had significant lead-based paint hazards. Of those with hazards, 1.2 million units housed low-income families (< $30,000/year) with children under 6 years of age. With each passing day more and more Black families are impacted by lead poisoning, which diminishes their quality of life and impairs their potential. There is no more time to wait.

    Under the guidance of Secretary Julian Castro, HUD has done as much as they can to update lead poisoning prevention rules and foster change that will protect families. Their efforts must be matched by Congressional action. Voting in favor of the Lead-Safe Housing for Kids Act of 2016 is more than just a signal that government can work effectively to protect citizens from harm. It is the right thing to do. With your help we can protect the more than 4 million children living in public or federally-assisted housing and ensure that families all across the country can breathe easy in their homes.

    Can we count on your support and understanding?


    Rashad Robinson

    Executive Director

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