Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart

Representing the 25th District of FLORIDA

Leaders of Appropriations Subcommittee Call on GAO to Examine HUD’s Efforts to Protect Children from Lead Poisoning

Feb 8, 2017
Press Release

Washington, D.C. — In an effort to better protect families in HUD-assisted housing from lead-based paint hazards, U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Jack Reed (D-RI) and U.S. Representatives Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL25) and David Price (D-NC4) today called upon the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) to produce a report on the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) programs that address lead-based paint hazards. 

Recent reports of lead-based paint hazards in HUD-assisted housing have raised concerns about whether HUD has sufficient oversight to ensure that both property owners and public housing agencies are complying with existing regulations pertaining to lead-based paint hazards and whether those regulations are effective. Seventy percent of lead poisonings are a result of dust exposure from lead-based paint in the home, and children, especially those living at or below the poverty line that reside in older homes, are at risk of long-term neurological harm, including reduced IQ, behavioral changes, and reduced educational attainment.

“Since the beginning of my Senate service, I have worked to raise awareness and secure funding to address lead-based hazards, which remain one of the most prevalent health issues facing children today,” said Senator Collins. “Once completed, this GAO report will improve our understanding of the gaps in HUD’s enforcement of lead-based paint regulations and enhance our efforts to eradicate this largely preventable health problem.”

“Protecting children from lead poisoning must be a national priority. HUD must ensure that children living in assisted housing are protected and that their programs are effective in addressing this problem,” said Senator Reed. “This study by GAO will help us better understand how well HUD’s current programs are working and provide invaluable insight into how to achieve better health outcomes from current programs, close gaps in regulations, increase coordination among federal, state, and local partners, and improve the use of resources to ensure that more children are helped with every dollar spent.”

“I am pleased to join my appropriations colleagues in requesting this report from the GAO. Lead-based paint continues to pose a hazard to children across the country, and the recent accounts of toxic paint in HUD-assisted housing are alarming. Lead-based paint poisoning is preventable, and it is vital that we as policymakers gain critical information about the best and most effective uses of federal funding to combat this issue,” said Congressman Diaz-Balart.

“Lead-based paint hazards in HUD-assisted housing pose a grave threat to the health of vulnerable individuals, especially children. I hope that the GAO will conduct a thorough and comprehensive audit that will help inform our continued efforts to address lead hazards,” said Congressman Price.

The Senate and House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) oversees funding for federal housing programs. A version of this study was included in fiscal year 2017 report language by both the Senate and House THUD Appropriations subcommittees.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that at least 4 million households have children living in them that are being exposed to high levels of lead and that approximately 24 million homes in the United States have deteriorated lead-based paint and lead-contaminated dust.

The full text of the letter can be read here.

###