NORWICH, CT – RealEstateRama – In the wake of ongoing mold problems at Branford Manor Apartments in Groton, CT, Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02), Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Congresswoman Joyce Beatty (OH-03) introduced bicameral legislation to improve the health, safety, and habitability of our country’s federally-assisted housing.
The legislation comes after tenants at Branford Manor, a federally-assisted apartment complex in Groton, CT, citeddangerous and unlivable conditions due to mold. Although the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) new inspection regimen, published this year, has prioritized the potential dangers of mold, more federal action is needed to protect the public from mold and other environmental health hazards.
The Healthy at Home Act of 2023would hold bad actors accountable, improve tenant education, provide financial support to building owners working to improve building safety, set standards to prevent and detect safety hazards like mold, and more.
“Branford Manor residents, who have endured unsafe conditions, like mold, in their apartments, have petitioned local, state, and federal officials to reform out of date laws that are woefully inadequate. The fact that Branford Manor passed a recent HUD inspection is a powerful example of how the system is broken and screaming out for change. I applaud the Department of Housing and Urban Development for taking critical steps recently to improve tenants’ health and safety at home, but Congressional action is clearly needed. The Healthy at Home Act of 2023 provides structural changes to prevent unhealthy conditions. The strong support from national housing advocates for this measure validates the efforts of Branford Manor tenants that the system needs to change,” said Rep. Joe Courtney (CT-02).
“This important initiative— inspired by Connecticut’s Branford Manor residents— will help make homes healthier throughout the nation. Our Healthy at Home Act requires strong standards for preventing, detecting and remediating indoor mold so that no one has to endure intolerable and unhealthy living conditions. An enforceable, effective standard is key to tenant health and safety,” said Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT).
“The Healthy at Home Act of 2023 is a bill that prioritizes safety and mitigates risks for tenants who deserve to live healthy and prosperous day to day lives in their homes,” said Congresswoman Beatty (OH-03), a member of the House Financial Services Committee, which has oversight over housing and urban development. “Access to safe and affordable housing is the hallmark of the American dream that my constituents across Central Ohio and Americans across the United States should be afforded. This legislation offers the accountability and transparency for states to disclose health and safety concerns, as well as improve the overall housing habitability. I’m proud to support this legislation with my colleagues, Congressman Joe Courtney and Senator Richard Blumenthal.”
For years, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development worked to change the existing inspection protocols and standards through a rulemaking process. On July 15, the Department announced their final inspection standards which, at Congressman Courtney’s urging, classified mold-like substances as a “life threatening deficiency,” which ensures mold is treated like the serious problem it is during inspections.
Even still, the Healthy at Home Act of 2023 is critical to codifying improved standards for residential buildings to protect against mold and protect residents from health and safety risks.
Specifically, the bill would:
- support research and standard-setting on mold and mold mitigation;
- provide federal funding to support building owners as they seek to make the changes needed to improve a building’s safety for tenants;
- create minimum housing stock quality requirements for federally-assisted housing;
- create an education campaign for tenants and landlords to reduce health risks; and
- incentivize states to disclose health and safety concerns in the building to future residents.
The bill is endorsed by 22 organizations, including the National Housing Law Project, the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, the American Academy of PAs, the American Lung Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National League of Cities, the Change the Air Foundation, the National Low Income Housing Coalition, and the National Center for Healthy Housing.
“The serious impact of mold and water damage on Americans’ health has been overlooked for too long. Exposure to these unhealthy environments can cause significant physical, emotional, and financial hardship to those living within them. Change the Air Foundation applauds Congressman Courtney and Senator Blumenthal for championing the Healthy at Home Act of 2023, critical indoor air quality legislation that will provide updated research, standard-setting, accountability, financial support, and education for both tenants and building owners. It’s time to put mold on the same playing field as lead, asbestos, and radon and give it the attention it deserves,” said Brandon Chappo, Director of Public Policy, Change the Air Foundation.
“Indoor mold can cause serious respiratory problems for people with mold allergy and allergic asthma,” says Lynda Mitchell, CEO of Allergy & Asthma Network. “Many people are unaware that mold, hidden inside walls or ceilings in their homes, may be the cause of their allergy or asthma symptoms. We are excited to see indoor mold addressed in this important legislation. We support mold education and research in communities and mitigation efforts to reduce mold in homes and apartments, especially those impacted by flooding due to severe weather.”
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