Wednesday, October 12, 2016

HUD Secretary Julian Castro Visits RI, Proposes Tougher Lead Standards for Children

Senator Jack Reed with Julian Castro, 
Secretary of the U.S. Department of 
Housing and Urban Development
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Julian Castro recently toured homes in Providence before announcing the agency’s proposal for tighter regulation on lead levels in children living in HUD-assisted housing.

“This important change to HUD's 17-year-old Lead Safe Housing Rule will allow for an earlier response when a child under 6 years old is exposed to lead-based paint hazards in their HUD-assisted homes," HUD announced in a press release. Castro said that the proposed change could impact approximately 2.9 million subsidized and public housing units constructed prior to the 1978 ban on residential lead paint.

Castro toured a three-family home at 14 Dutton St. with U.S. Senator Jack Reed and Barbara Fields, Executive Director of Rhode Island Housing. The homes, which were formerly lead-contaminated, were cleaned up using federal funds.

Rhode Island's health department reports the number of lead-poisoned children has declined over the past ten years, but 935 children in the state will be entering kindergarten this year with elevated levels of lead in their blood. Lead poisoning can cause irreversible health, learning, and behavioral problems.

"It is the most vulnerable Americans who face the most risk of environmental hazards. We're always looking for ways to keep our youngest residents safe and healthy,” said Castro.