García and Cunningham Celebrate Passage of Life-Saving Legislation

Bill to protect families from carbon monoxide poisoning in public housing approved in U.S. House of Representatives

Washington, D.C. — The Safe Housing for Families Act (H.R. 1690, now entitled CO Alerts Act) was approved in the U.S. House of Representatives with bipartisan support. The bill, which was introduced in March by Congressmen Jesús “Chuy” García (Il-04) and Joe Cunningham (SC-01) will provide funds for carbon monoxide detectors in federally subsidized housing units.  Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson signaled support for the bill during testimony before the House Financial Services Committee in May.

 “Today, while we were voting for this bill on the floor of the House of Representatives, I kept thinking about the 13 people who have died of carbon monoxide poisoning in federal public housing since 2003. These tragedies could have been prevented by an inexpensive detector. No family in America should live with the fear of being poisoned in their sleep and worry about if they will wake up again. The CO Alerts Act is an example of what Congress can achieve when we work in a bipartisan manner, in both chambers, on common-sense policies. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to support and pass this life-saving legislation before the cold winter months arrive,” said Congressman García.

 “In the few months that I’ve been in Congress, at least four Americans have died in public housing complexes from carbon monoxide poisoning, from Columbia to Detroit. Every single one of these deaths could have been avoided,” said Congressman Cunningham. “I’m proud the House took a critical step today towards preventing senseless deaths in the future by passing the H.R. 1690, the CO Alerts Act.”

“On behalf of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, I commend Congressmen Garcia and Cunningham for their leadership to help make public housing safer by addressing the threat of carbon monoxide poisoning,” said Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition. “By passing this legislation, the House of Representatives has taken a long over-due step in better providing safe, decent homes for low-income families, and we urge the Senate to quickly follow suit.”

The CO Alerts Act will provide $305 million dollars over three years to the Department of Housing and Urban Development to provide carbon monoxide detectors in public housing units. This legislation will prevent unnecessary deaths from carbon monoxide poisoning in millions of homes across the country. Almost 5 million families receive HUD rental assistance in the United States. Most of them are elderly, disabled or have young children. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 50 thousand individuals per year are sickened by carbon monoxide poisoning and more than 400 die each year.

This legislation is supported by the National Association of Realtors, the National Low Income Housing Coalition, the American Public Health Association, National Housing Law Project, National Housing Trust, Public Housing Authorities Directors Association, the Council of Large Public Housing Authorities, Latin United Community Housing Association (LUCHA), Justice Innovations, Safe Kids Illinois and the Security Industries Association.

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