Remarks for HUD Secretary Julián Castro
Addressing Lead Exposure in Low-Income Communities
Center for American Progress
Washington, DC
Wednesday, July 20, 2016

As prepared for delivery

Good afternoon everyone! Thank you Neera (Tanden) for that kind introduction, and for your great work as President of CAP (the Center for American Progress). I'd like to congratulate CAP on releasing its important new study, one that highlights our nation's urgent need to build safer and healthier communities for all Americans.

I also want to thank each of my fellow panelists for being here today. Ruth Ann Norton is a longtime partner of HUD, and I'm so happy she could join us this afternoon. I want to recognize Mayor (Betsy) Hodges for her leadership on behalf of folks in Minneapolis, and in the entire state of Minnesota. And I'd like to acknowledge David Fukuzawa for everything he's done to improve the lives of underserved youth.

And of course, I want to thank everyone here today. As advocates, experts, and activists, you fight each day to safeguard the health of our nation's children.

I want you to know that HUD is proud to join y'all in achieving this mission. At HUD, we call ourselves the Department of Opportunity because housing can serve as a powerful platform to spark progress in people's lives. We also know that good health is a vital part of someone's ability to seize any opportunity that comes along.

Every child in America deserves the chance to grow up in a safe and healthy home. So we're focused on eliminating one of the biggest threats facing children in HUD-assisted housing.

Last month, we announced a series of bold new steps that will protect more young people from the dangers of lead-based paint. We call them our "Lead-Safe Homes, Lead-Free Kids Toolkit," and I'd like to take a few moments to discuss some of the changes we're making.

First, we're improving how we identify and control lead hazards. We're taking steps to align our Lead Safe Housing Rule with the guidelines set forth by the CDC, a measure that should expand protections for nearly 7,000 children. And we're working to develop a consistent standard for water quality across all HUD-supported properties.

Second, we're looking at the effectiveness of our current lead-poison prevention policies, and we're coming-up with new strategies to improve them going forward. 

Third, we're strengthening our home inspection process, and stepping-up enforcement against those who break our lead safety rules and endanger young children.

Fourth, we're joining forces with leaders across the public and private sectors to connect more HUD-assisted residents with resources that protect them from exposure to lead. This includes working with local health departments to help make free blood-lead level testing available to every child under the age of 6 who lives in a HUD-supported home. And earlier today, we launched a new partnership with the National League of Cities, one that will lift up the innovative work of local leaders across the nation who are making their communities safer and healthier.

Finally, as we push to protect more Americans from the dangers of lead, we'll also remember that the fight doesn't stop there. We'll keep-up our commitment to removing other toxic substances found in our nation's homes like radon, carbon monoxide, and mold. So today, I'm proud to announce that we're releasing more than $52 million in grants that will help eliminate lead and other hazards from nearly 3,000 low-income households. These investments continue the great work of our Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes, which since 1993 has served nearly 200,000 households through its grant programs alone.  

I promise that our team won't stop working until all children in HUD-supported housing have the chance to grow up in a safe and secure home. A home that lays the foundation for their health, their happiness, and their future success.

We know it's a mission that we can't accomplish alone. We'll the need the continued support and partnership of everyone in this room. Folks dedicated to making our nation safer and healthier than ever - one family, one neighborhood, and one community at a time.

So it's an honor to join y'all for this important conversation, and I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you very much, and let's get the discussion started!


Content Archived: February 9, 2018