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NCFL Rep. Lawson trying to clean up federally assisted housing

Rep. Al Lawson introduces a new bill to help clean up federally assisted housing.
Rep. Al Lawson introduces a new bill to help clean up federally assisted housing.
Updated: May. 19, 2021 at 12:46 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - Representative Al Lawson of North Central Florida is trying to clean up federally assisted housing.

Lawson says many units in the program are deemed unsafe, indecent, and in disrepair. However, they still pass housing and urban development inspections.

His newly introduced bill would require HUD to take action when properties score less than 60 on an inspection or have life threatening violations.

In a statement, the congressman said quote, “It is inexcusable that HUD inspectors are inaccurately passing units that display clear evidence of mold, rat infestations and sewage issues.”

The full press release from Representative Lawson’s office is below:

U.S. Reps. Al Lawson, Alma Adams and Val Demings Introduce HUD Inspection Act of 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Rep. Al Lawson (FL-05), Rep. Alma Adams (NC-12), and Rep. Val Demings (FL-10) introduced the HUD Inspection Act of 2021. This bill forces U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) to take greater action when federal assisted housing properties fail to come into compliance with federal housing laws.

“It is inexcusable that HUD inspectors are inaccurately passing units that display clear evidence of mold, rat infestations and sewage issues in federally assisted housing across the nation,” Rep. Lawson said. “No person should ever have to live under these horrific conditions, and these violations should receive immediate action. The HUD Inspection Act of 2021 will provide much-needed transparency in the inspection process and strengthen enforcement actions against properties owners who fail to maintain their properties. I’m proud to co-introduce this bill with Rep. Adams and Rep. Demings as we work to hold HUD, its inspectors and property managers accountable.”

Nationwide, more than 10 million people reside in HUD properties — 68 percent are seniors, children and persons with disabilities. Many units and facilities are often deemed unsafe, indecent, and in disrepair, but are ultimately passing HUD’s inspections.

The HUD Inspection Act of 2021 will:

  • Establish in law a requirement that HUD take action when properties score less than 60 on an inspection or fail to promptly address life threatening conditions;
  • Strengthen the compliance process by giving owners 15 days to respond to a notice of violation. If the problems persist, this bill directs HUD to develop a plan to bring the property into compliance within 45 days of the inspection;
  • Require HUD to take additional enforcement action when a property continues to be in noncompliance;
  • Authorize the HUD Secretary to impose financial penalties on owners that fail to maintain properties according to federal, physical standards or are repeatedly referred for remediation because of tenant surveys.

“During my time as a police chief, we worked to ensure safe housing for everyone in our communities,” Rep. Val Demings said. “Here in Orlando, we have examples of bad actors who mismanaged HUD properties while keeping residents trapped in filthy and unsafe homes. Safe housing should be attainable for every person in America. No senior, child, no family in America should have to live in dangerous and pest-infested homes. Our government has a duty to ensure that the Americans living in HUD-inspected housing are treated with dignity and respect, including credible and vigorous health and safety standards. I am glad that our new HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge is a proven leader on protecting the health and safety of HUD residents, and glad to join with Reps. Adams and Lawson on this important legislation to protect the health and safety of our constituents.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic has made it clear that safe, affordable housing should be a right for everyone,” Rep. Alma Adams said. “More than 10 million people rely on federal rental assistance for housing, and too many of them are living in properties that have passed HUD inspections despite unsafe conditions and substandard settings. I’m proud to reintroduce this bill with Congressman Al Lawson and Congresswoman Demings to reform the inspection process and hold HUD inspectors and property managers accountable for maintaining safe living conditions for tenants, enforcing physical standards, and making improvements as needed to federally-assisted dwelling units. Every family deserves the dignity of a safe and sanitary home of which they can be proud.”

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