Pressure Mounts to Implement CO Protections after Deaths in Public Housing
Recently, NBC News found that at least 11 deaths in federally subsidized housing since 2003 were caused by carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning, most recently in January when two men died in a public housing site in Columbia, S.C. HUD doesn’t require CO detectors in public housing and, according to housing advocates and public health experts, has been slow to combat the hazards posed by the gas.
In a letter to Secretary Carson citing NBC’s findings, 15 housing and legal advocacy groups urged Carson to issue “emergency guidance” to require that CO detectors be installed immediately in all HUD-subsidized units with gas-powered appliances, generators, or attached garages. That would bring HUD in line with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as HUD’s own guidance for the general public.
In addition, members of Congress said they’re prepared to press Carson on the threat to public housing residents the next time he appears on Capitol Hill. Representative David Price (D-NC), chair of the House Appropriations subcommittee on transportation and housing, described the news report as “horrifying” and said he expected the issue to come up during his committee’s upcoming budget hearing with the HUD Secretary, which could happen in early April. And Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) said he was looking at “all available avenues” to address the issue, including legislative fixes.