NCHH Press Releases

For Immediate Release

Media Contact: Phillip Dodge, 443.539.4168,

Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) Introduces Nation’s First Comprehensive Healthy Housing Bill

October 6, 2008—Washington, DC. The National Center for Healthy Housing (NCHH) and the Alliance for Healthy Homes praised the introduction of new legislation geared toward improving the quality of housing in the United States.

Senate bill S. 3654, introduced by Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), emphasizes cost-effective approaches and market-based incentives to make homes healthier and safer without detracting from their affordability.  Entitled the Research, Hazard Intervention, and National Outreach for Healthier Housing Act, the multi-faceted legislation aims to improve research, enhance the capacity of federal programs, and expand national outreach efforts.

Bill provisions include:

  • Provides funding for existing federal housing programs, such as CDBG, HOME, and LIHEAP to add healthy homes components to their programs.
  • Leverages the private market interest in healthy homes by creating a voluntary “Healthy Homes Seal of Approval” modeled after the successful Energy Star program.
  • Authorizes $7,000,000 for each of the next five years for the National Institute of Environmental Health Science and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to evaluate the health risks and human health effects of indoor exposure to chemical pollutants including carbon monoxide, chemical asthma triggers, and common household and garden pesticides.
  • Authorizes $6,000,000 for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to study methods for the assessment and control of housing-related health hazards.
  • Provides $10,000,000 for HUD and CDC to study the indoor environmental quality of existing housing and to create a system for monitoring housing related hazards.

"Senator Reed's legislation provides a course of action for creating healthier and therefore more affordable housing, promotes the healthy growth and development of children and has the potential to save billions in health care costs, improve school outcomes, and strengthen disenfranchised communities," said Dr. Peter Simon, Assistant Medical Director, Division of Community, Family Health, and Equity, Rhode Island Department of Health.

“The places people live undoubtedly impact their health and well-being. Residents of housing that is poorly designed, constructed, or maintained are at risk for cancer, injuries, childhood lead poisoning, and asthma. With more than 100 million existing homes in the U.S., it is critical that we direct attention and resources to maintaining this important infrastructure in a manner that supports the health of families,” said Rebecca Morley, Executive Director of the National Center for Healthy Housing.

Approximately 6,000,000 households live with moderate or severe housing problems, including heating, plumbing, and electrical problems. And even though lead-based paint was banned in 1978, 24 million households still face significant lead-based paint hazards. Providing healthier housing in the United States will help prevent an estimated 240,000 elevated blood lead levels, 18,000 unintentional injury deaths, and 2,000,000 emergency room visits for asthma.

“Senator Reed’s legislation provides a long-awaited roadmap for creating healthier homes across the country,” said Alliance for Healthy Homes Executive Director Patrick MacRoy. “By providing key funding for capacity building and helping to break down bureaucratic barriers at the federal level, this legislation will help ensure that our children and our families are safe in their homes.”

In March 2008, Senators Reed (D-RI) and Hagel (R-NE) introduced legislation creating the first Council on Healthy Housing, which would bring together federal, state, and local government representatives, as well as industry and nonprofit representatives, to address the issue of healthy homes.