Senators Whitehouse, Schumer, and Casey Introduce Bill to Protect Children from Lead
Senators’ Legislation Would Offer Federal Tax Credits to Help Cover the Costs of Removing the Highly Dangerous Toxin from Homes
Washington, DC – With an estimated 23 million homes nationwide containing lead-paint-related hazards and millions more with dangerous lead pipes, U.S. Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), and Bob Casey (D-PA) introduced legislation today to help Americans cover the cost of removing lead from their homes.
Lead is a powerful neurotoxin that can have debilitating effects on people of all ages. In particular, it can severely compromise the behavioral and cognitive development of children. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that over 4 million households nationwide have children who are exposed to high levels of lead. Despite the widespread contamination of U.S. housing stock, funding for existing federal programs to reduce lead hazards only covered abatement of lead-related risks in 18,600 housing units in 2015.
The Home Lead Safety Tax Credit Act of 2016 would dramatically broaden the national response to this critical public health challenge by providing refundable tax credits for homeowners, landlords, tenants, and others to remove lead from homes. The bill would create a tax credit worth up to $3,000 to cover half the cost of abating lead hazards. It would also create a smaller tax credit worth up to $1,000 to cover half the cost of steps taken to control—but not completely remove—lead hazards, like sealing in lead paint. These new tax credits would supplement state and local lead control programs, and would be available to offset costs in households with annual income under $110,000.
“Despite the grave danger it poses, lead still lurks in most homes in older cities like Providence,” said Whitehouse, who has a long history of fighting lead contamination. In 1999, while serving as Rhode Island Attorney General, Whitehouse initiated legal action against lead paint manufacturers to demand accountability for the hazards of their products. “As we’ve seen with the national disgrace in Flint, Michigan, lead remains a major public health challenge. These tax credits will help property owners and families rid all homes of lead once and for all and protect our children.”
“I am grateful to Senator Whitehouse and his colleagues for standing up for the children in Rhode Island and across the country who are exposed to lead in the place where they should be most safe – their own homes,” said Barbara Fields, Executive Director of Rhode Island Housing. “Working with Senator Whitehouse and our state's federal delegation, Rhode Island Housing has reduced dangerous lead hazards in thousands of Rhode Island homes over the last two decades. This tax credit would be an important tool to rid our state of the lingering effects of lead and pave the way for all Rhode Island children to grow up in safe, healthy homes.”
“Lead poisoning is a tragic and costly issue for the entire nation. The Home Lead Safety Tax Credit Act of 2016, sponsored by three of the nation’s foremost advocates protecting children’s health, will provide an invaluable set of tools and resources to families and homeowners across the Country. It’s passage will help us deliver on the goal of ending childhood lead poisoning as a major public health threat and improve the opportunity to every child and every family to reach their full potential.” said Ruth Ann Norton, President and CEO of the Green & Healthy Homes Initiative. Norton traveled to Rhode Island on Monday to help Whitehouse announce the bill.
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