June 27, 2017

As prepared for delivery. The speaker may add or subtract comments during his presentation.

Good afternoon, and thank you for coming.

June is National Healthy Homes Month - a time when we call attention to the health hazards that can reside in our homes. Our homes must be safe, not a source of disease or risk. Part of that expectation is that our homes are free of lead paint hazards and the health risks that accompany lead.

Sadly, we don't have to look far to find this hazard. Many of our homes have lead paint on the walls, windows, and doors. This is because millions of homes were painted with lead-based paint before 1978.

We must make every effort to control those hazards in public housing, assisted housing, and in every home! As Secretary, I want to make lead paint hazard removal a top priority. I want us to act now ... with urgency. We know where the paint is located and we must keep finding any location of lead paint usage. Any paint that poses a risk to children and other vulnerable people must be stripped off and replaced with safe paint.

The medical evidence is overwhelming. That is why HUD continues to support lead paint removal. If we don't do this for ourselves and our neighbors, we must do it for our children, who disproportionately suffer from exposure to lead dust and lead ingestion. Public and assisted housing must be safe housing. We want a sweeping, comprehensive effort to eradicate lead paint poisoning.

You have boldly become part of the solution and we must increase our public private partnerships. Together, we have the capability to make a difference. We need the energy, productivity, and action of the private sector. HUD needs to be engaged in each city and town.

So, the effort at HUD for lead hazard control reaches out into our communities, finding partners willing to help in our efforts. Whether your organizations are national, or state-wide, or local, your help is critical to the country.

Each year we award two types of lead hazard control grants. One is for lead hazard reduction demonstration programs, which is primarily for older urban sites. It may include homeowners, renters, or those in public housing. This year there are 20 awardees, totaling more than $58 million, addressing almost 4,000 housing units.

There is also a grant program to control lead paint in other areas, urban or suburban. Today we announce 28 grants totaling $58 million. The number of homes that will be addressed is also about 4,000.

Congratulations to all the awardees, several of whom are with us today. And thank you for your commitment to a healthier America.

These grants are just a beginning. We will be looking for more ways to act, more arrangements that prevent lead paint poisoning.

Let me explain why this is so personal for me, especially as a doctor. In her introduction, Michelle (Miller) mentioned my time at Johns Hopkins. I appreciate that. When I practiced at Johns Hopkins I saw the results of lead paint poisoning. Some of the children had developmental and mental problems. They had health conditions that should never touch their lives.

Medicine took a great leap forward when it developed public health practices. This created a mobile army of public health workers, people who could go out in the community to prevent disease and raise the health status of the community. This army of public health practitioners is modern medicine pro-actively engaged outside the four walls of the hospital or clinic.

Today, we are part of that new army of medicine. The community needs our work. Public and assisted housing, and our homes must be made safe. This is our way of reaching out and serving the community.

Again, thank you for coming.


Content Archived: January 2, 2019