‘Chuy’ Garcia Leads Push to Get Carbon Monoxide Monitors in All Public Housing
Freshmen Get It Done Series

July 11, 2019 by Elin Johnson

In our new series, Freshmen Get it Done, The Well News will be highlighting legislative accomplishments by freshman Members of Congress from both parties.

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WASHINGTON – A bill sponsored by freshman Representative Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, D-Ill., to provide funding for carbon monoxide detectors in all federally-subsidized housing units, was unanimously endorsed by the House Financial Services Committee last week.

The bill, the Safe Housing for Families Act, was introduced in March, and for Garcia it was a milestone, being the first piece of legislation he’d introduced since taking office in January.

Senator Kamala Harris, D-Calif., now a leading presidential candidate, sponsored the companion legislation in the Senate. Representative Joe Cunningham, D-S.C., was a co-sponsor of the House bill.

Since the bill’s filing, HUD has announced it will also propose new regulations to require carbon monoxide detectors in all public housing units it subsidizes. 

In response to HUD’s decision, Representative Garcia said he is pleased the agency is “moving in the right direction and placing the wellbeing of families first.” 

“Carbon monoxide detectors are inexpensive and easy to install,” the representative said. “They save lives and there is no reason why families living in federal public housing should have to worry about the safety of their homes.

“HUD’s decision underscores the importance of passing the Safe Housing for Families Act which would provide funding and make detectors in public housing required by law across the United States,” he continued. “I look forward to reviewing the rules HUD will issue and will continue to work to ensure that those living in public housing, often communities of color, the elderly and the economically disadvantaged are protected from carbon monoxide poisoning.”

H.R. 1690 authorizes $300 million over three years to support a new requirement to install and maintain carbon monoxide detectors on every level of all Federally assisted housing units under Section 202, Section 811, Public Housing, and Section 8 programs.

The requirement would only become effective once sufficient funds have been appropriated by Congress to ensure that property owners and public housing authorities are not burdened with an unfunded mandate.

It was filed in the wake of an investigation by NBC News that found HUD does not provide carbon monoxide detectors in federally-assisted rental housing. NBC noted there have been at least 13 deaths attributed to carbon monoxide in these rentals since 2003, including four this year alone.

The bill received support and praise from Republican members of Congress and the Trump administration. 

In a tweet, HUD Secretary Ben Carson commended Representative Garcia for moving forward on the legislation. “I look forward to continuing this important effort with leaders in the House and Senate,” Carson said.

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