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 Devi HarrisKamala Harris rallies with McDonald's workers striking for higher wages Kamala Harris rallies with McDonald's workers striking for higher wages 22 presidential candidates to attend Clyburn's South Carolina fish fry 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 CunninghamEx-congressman launching PAC to defend Dem seats in 2020 Ex-congressman launching PAC to defend Dem seats in 2020 GOP leader, Ocasio-Cortez give boost to lawmaker pay hike 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. 

ADVERTISEMENT

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 CarsonBenjamin (Ben) Solomon CarsonMoulton confirms he'll miss first Democratic debate Moulton confirms he'll miss first Democratic debate Lawmakers battle over HUD protections for homeless transgender people 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.”