Harris, House Dems push for mandatory carbon monoxide detectors in public housing

Harris, House Dems push for mandatory carbon monoxide detectors in public housing
© Greg Nash

Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisMadame Tussauds unveils new Biden and Harris figures Democrats ponder Plan B strategy to circumvent voting rights filibuster Watch: Lawmakers, activists, family members call for voting rights legislation on MLK day MORE (D-Calif.) and two House Democrats are urging Congress to pass legislation to require carbon monoxide detectors in public housing.

In a Monday letter to the the House Financial Services Committee and the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, Harris, Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García (D-Ill.) and Rep. Joe CunninghamJoseph CunninghamMace chief of staff steps down during turbulent week Pediatrician unveils challenge to GOP's Mace in South Carolina 'Blue wave' Democrats eye comebacks after losing reelection MORE (D-S.C.) pushed the committees to advance two versions of the Safe Housing for Families Act, which would require the devices in all federally subsidized housing. 

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The legislation was introduced in March following an NBC News investigation that found at least 13 people had died of carbon monoxide poisoning in homes overseen by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) since 2003. It would allocate $10 million in funding to install the detectors.

"These senseless deaths in federally-assisted housing are unconscionable," the lawmakers wrote. "We urge the leadership of the House and Senate committees of jurisdiction to swiftly consider passage of HR 1690 and S. 755, the Safe Housing for Families Act, to ensure public housing facilities across the U.S. are equipped with and maintain functioning carbon monoxide monitors."

"The most vulnerable among us, the elderly and children living in federally-assisted public housing, deserve safety from preventable CO poisoning," they added.

In April, HUD announced it was drafting the first federal rule mandating carbon monoxide detectors in all public housing. About half of U.S. states require carbon monoxide detectors in certain housing, but the requirements do not apply to older rental units in some cases.

“A simple, inexpensive, widely available device can be the difference between life and death,” HUD Secretary Ben CarsonBen CarsonSunday shows preview: Multiple states detect cases of the omicron variant Race is not central to Rittenhouse case — but the media shout it anyway Trump endorses primary challenger to Peter Meijer in Michigan MORE said in a statement last month. “Given the unevenness of state and local law, we intend to make certain that CO detectors are required in all our housing programs, just as we require smoke detectors, no matter where our HUD-assisted families live.”