Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Mike Johanns (R-NE) Introduce Healthy Housing Council Act of 2011
The National Center for Healthy Housing Praises Introduction of Bill to Create Council on Improving Housing Conditions
Media Contact: Phillip Dodge
Columbia, MD (September 26, 2011)—The National Center for Healthy Housing (NCHH) hails the introduction of S.1617, the Healthy Housing Council Act of 2011 on Friday. U.S. senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Mike Johanns (R-NE) introduced the legislation, which would create the first Council on Healthy Housing—bringing together federal, state, and local government representatives as well as industry and nonprofit representatives.
“This is an important public health and economic issue. The Healthy Housing Council Act will help families identify and eliminate hidden home health hazards. Small problems like a leaky pipe can lead to mold, which can then cause more serious health and economic issues, including missed school and work. Making simple fixes can go a long way toward preventing costly health problems down the road. By improving coordination on existing but fragmented programs, this bipartisan bill will help more homeowners access the necessary services and preventive measures they need to make their homes and our community a healthier place for all,” said Reed.
The bill aims to promote coordination and collaboration among the federal departments and agencies involved with housing, public health, energy efficiency, emergency preparedness and response, and the environment. The bill would improve services for families and individuals residing in inadequate or unsafe housing and to make recommendations about needed changes in programs and services.
Residents of housing that is poorly designed, constructed, or maintained are at risk for serious health issues. These risks include cancer, injuries, childhood lead poisoning, and asthma that cost the country nearly $76 billion annually. Children and the elderly are the specific age groups that are at the greatest risk.
“We appreciate the leadership of senators Reed and Johanns on this key issue. Providing healthier housing in the United States will help prevent an estimated 240,000 elevated blood lead levels, 18,000 unintentional injury deaths, and 20,000,000 emergency room visits for asthma,” said Rebecca Morley, executive director of the National Center for Healthy Housing and chair of the National Safe and Healthy Housing Coalition. “Addressing poor-quality housing and detrimental neighborhood conditions must be a high priority if we are to narrow the health disparities gap and reduce soaring medical costs.”
Members of the council will include the agency heads of the Departments of Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Departments of Energy, Labor, Veterans Affairs, Treasury, Agriculture and Education. Six members of the council will represent state or local agencies, nonprofit organizations, and the housing, banking, or health insurance industries. The bill authorizes $750,000 per year for the work of the council.