Durbin, Duckworth urge HUD to take steps to address lead poisoning

Illinois’ two Democratic senators joined nine colleagues last week urging the Department of Housing and Urban Development to take further steps to address lead poisoning in federally assisted housing.[Health News Illinois]

The 11 senators, including Sens. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth, said in a letter sent last week to department Secretary Marcia Fudge that they wanted an update on its implementation of a demonstration program to assess better ways to handle its housing choice vouchers.

Current statute requires that children in the voucher program develop lead poisoning before a risk assessment is conducted, which the senators said leads to many children — specifically low-income and minority populations — being exposed to lead.

“We have previously alerted HUD of our great concern and the urgency of addressing childhood lead poisoning in both federally assisted and private market housing, especially because the health and safety of so many vulnerable children are at stake,” the senators said.

Lawmakers noted the National Housing Law Project estimates 90,000 children in the housing choice voucher program have lead poisoning, and an additional 340,000 children living in federally assisted housing are at risk.

The agency did not return a request for comment.