CHICAGO (CBS) — The U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday passed a bill co-sponsored by Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García (D-Illinois), which will provide funds for carbon monoxide detectors in federally-subsidized public housing.
The CO Alerts Act (H.R. 1690), originally the Safe Housing for Families Act, was introduced in March by Garcia and Rep. Joe Cunningham (D-South Carolina).
U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson signaled support for the bill during testimony in May before the House Financial Service Committee, according to a news release.
García noted in the release that 13 people have died of carbon monoxide poisoning in federal public housing since 2003.
“These tragedies could have been prevented by an inexpensive detector. No family in America should live with the fear of being poisoned in their sleep and worry about if they will wake up again,” García said in the news release. “The CO Alerts Act is an example of what Congress can achieve when we work in a bipartisan manner, in both chambers, on common-sense policies. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to support and pass this life-saving legislation before the cold winter months arrive.”
Cunningham noted that at least four people have died in public housing complexes from carbon monoxide poisoning – from Columbia, South Carolina to Detroit – in the few months he has been in Congress.
“Every single one of these deaths could have been avoided,” Cunningham said in the release. “I’m proud the House took a critical step today towards preventing senseless deaths in the future by passing the H.R. 1690, the CO Alerts Act.”
The CO Alerts Act will provide $305 million over three years to HUD to provide carbon monoxide detectors in public housing units. The release said the proposed law will prevent unnecessary deaths from carbon monoxide poisoning in millions of homes nationwide.
The release noted that about 5 million families receive HUD rental assistance across the country, and most are elderly, disabled, or have young children.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 50,000 people each year are sickened by carbon monoxide poisoning, and more than 400 die.