Lead Safe Housing for Kids Act

EarthJustice statement on LSHKA

Lead in Federally-Assisted Housing Endangers Vulnerable Families across the Country Congress must act now to allow HUD to protect families receiving housing assistance

“It is past time for HUD to adopt a primary prevention strategy for addressing lead in federally assisted housing. Preventing lead exposure is cheaper than fixing the problem after a child has been poisoned. Not only cheaper, but morally imperative,” said Darrick Wade, board of directors, Cleveland Lead Advocates for Safe Housing.

Press Advisory: Lead Safe Housing for Kids Act introduced in the US House of Representatives.

US Representatives A. Donald McEachin (VA-04), Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), and Jesús “Chuy” García (IL-04) introduced the Lead Safe Housing for Kids Act. This proposed legislation will protect families living in Federally assisted housing from exposure to lead hazards in their homes.

Under the bill, public housing authorities, property owners receiving Federal assistance, and landlords in the Housing Choice Voucher program will be required to have a lead risk assessment and remediate lead hazards from any rental unit built before 1978 where a child under the age of 6 years old will be residing.

Provisions include:

  • Requiring the use of risk assessments, a more accurate evaluation tool to identify lead hazards before a family moves into the home;

  • Requiring landlords to disclose and control lead hazards if found in the home, as well as providing notice to tenants about their rights under the Fair Housing Act;

  • Providing a process for families to relocate on an emergency basis, without penalty or the loss of assistance, if a lead hazard is identified in the home and the landlord fails to control the hazard within 30 days of being notified of the presence of lead; and

  • Creating a lead-based paint hazard demonstration project that provides funding for remediation of lead-based paint hazards in identified homes. This demonstration project would be funded at $50 million each fiscal year (FY2023 through FY2027).

Lead activist Darrick Wade, whose son was poisoned by exposure to lead in Lakeview Terrace apartments, says: “The LSHKA bill will allow children living in public housing the protections they need to live a healthy and productive life.”

Childhood lead poisoning from paint and soil continues to be a problem in older communities where properties were built before 1978, the year that lead was banned from residential paint. Ohio is particularly hard hit. A recent story in JAMA-Pediatrics shows that Ohio has over twice the national rate of children with elevated blood lead levels. That number of children exposed to lead poisoning will increase because the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently lowered the reference standard for lead exposure from 5 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood to 3.5 micrograms. Even at that level, the CDC acknowledges that there is no safe level of lead exposure.

The goal of LSHKA is to test and remediate at-risk properties before children come into contact with home-based lead sources.

A companion bill was introduced in the US Senate by Senator Dick Durbin in 2021. Durbin’s bill is co-sponsored by Ohio Senator Rob Portman.

In 2019, Cleveland Lead Advocates for Safe Housing sponsored an initiative petition to call for enactment of the Lead Safe Certificate Law in the City of Cleveland in July 2019. LSHKA will fill a gap in the coverage of the Lead Safe Certificate Law which doesn’t appear to cover public housing properties.

For more information on the bill, contact Shahid at Shahid.Ahmed@mail.house.gov

For a local perspective call or text: Darrick Wade (216) 732-0874 or email to clevelandleadsafe@gmail.com

Local Reactions

Rental Information Network in Ohio says LSHKA could make a difference to Ohio families.