December 14, 2018

Duckworth, Durbin Announce $13.7M to Protect Illinois Families from Toxic Lead


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) announced $13,700,000 in federal funding today to help provide lead-free housing units to low-income families throughout Illinois. The funding comes through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Lead Hazard Reduction Program (LHRD), which aims to identify and control lead-based paint hazards in privately-owned housing for rental or owner-occupants, and HUD’s Healthy Homes supplemental funding, which focuses on researching and implementing low-cost, effective home hazard assessment methods.

“Federal funds like these help local communities address toxic lead-based paint, which has been proven to harm children and cause cognitive and behavioral problems,” Duckworth said. “I’ll keep working with Senator Durbin to reduce exposure to this dangerous neurotoxin and ensure safe, healthy housing options for children and families all across Illinois.”

“We know the damage lead can do to developing brains, and it’s our responsibility to ensure that all children, regardless of their background, can grow up healthy and reach their full potential. Access to safe housing should not be determined by your zip code,” Durbin said. “Senator Duckworth and I will continue fighting for investments like this to help make sure that families throughout Illinois are protected from the threat of lead poisoning.”

The following recipients will receive funds under this announcement:

  • City of Chicago: $4,100,000
    • $3,500,000 in LHRD funding; $600,000 in Healthy Homes funding
  • City of Moline: $2,400,000
    • $2,240,000 in LHRD funding; $160,000 in Healthy Homes funding
  • City of Kankakee: $3,600,000
    • $3,000,000 in LHRD funding; $600,000 in Healthy Homes funding
  • Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity: $3,600,000
    • $3,000,000 in LHRD funding; $600,000 in Healthy Homes funding

Duckworth has been outspoken about the need to reduce human exposure to toxic poisons like lead and has introduced several pieces of legislation addressing to address the issue. In September of this year, U.S. Senator Todd Young (R-IN) and Congressman Dan Kildee (D-MI) joined Duckworth in introducing the Get the Lead Out of Assisted Housing Act to protect families from lead exposure by requiring HUD to inspect for lead service lines, create a grant program to address lead contamination, and allow a cross-check for lead in water when remediating a home for lead found in paint. She also introduced the Get the Lead Out of Schools Act with U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) to ensure periodic testing for lead contamination in drinking water at schools while also providing schools with additional resources to monitor lead levels and replace outdated water infrastructure systems.

In 2017, Durbin introduced the bipartisan Lead-Safe Housing for Kids Act, which would require HUD to adopt prevention measures and update its lead regulations to protect children from the risk of lead exposure.  Since the enactment of federal lead policies in the 1990s, lead poisoning rates have fallen dramatically.  However, lead poisoning risk continues to fall disproportionally on minority children that live in federally subsidized housing because of outdated and ineffective federal laws and regulations.

In November of this year, Durbin and Duckworth, along with eight of their Senate colleagues, wrote to HUD Secretary Ben Carson, urging the agency to immediately improve its oversight of lead-based paint hazards in federally-assisted housing to ensure that families and children are protected from exposure to lead. The letter came on the heels of a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report recommending that HUD take immediate action to improve all of its protocols for identifying and remediating the presence of lead-based paint hazards in federally-assisted housing.