Last week, Congressmen A. Donald McEachin (VA-04) and John Faso (NY-19) introduced the bipartisan Lead-Safe Housing for Kids Act of 2018 to help protect millions of children from the severe health and developmental problems associated with lead exposure. If passed, the law would require pre-rental risk assessments of all federal housing units before families move in, and gives families the right to move and maintain public assistance if a lead problem is found and the landlord does not mitigate the problem within 30 days of notification. The Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, the Green & Healthy Homes Initiative, pro bono counsel at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, and advocates across the country have worked to push this bill forward, and it has been endorsed by more than 100 experts and organizations from across the country. The House bill follows the Senate bill of the same name, which was co-sponsored by Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Tim Scott (R-SC), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Todd Young (R-IN), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Tim McCain (D-VA), and Rob Portman (R-OH).
These bills build on lead-safe housing work done by the medical-legal partnership team at Erie Family Health Centers, Loyola University Chicago School of Law’s Health Justice Project, and Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago. After responding to many cases of lead poisoning in Chicago, the MLP built a nationwide coalition of affected families, community organizations, renowned scientists, and public health practitioners and successfully petitioned the Department of Housing and Urban Development to update its lead standards, which these bills build upon. This work is chronicled in their medical-legal partnership patients-to-policy story.