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Congress is working on carbon monoxide protections after deaths in HUD public housing

NBC News

WASHINGTON — Members of Congress are working on a legislative fix to reduce carbon monoxide hazards after an NBC News investigation revealed that detectors are not required in federally subsidized housing. Their efforts come as housing advocates demanded Monday that U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson take emergency measures to address the problem.

Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., a member of the House Appropriations Committee, which oversees funding for HUD, said she was disturbed by the federal housing agency’s “clear negligence on this issue.”

“The buck stops with them and with Secretary Carson,” Bustos said. “Complacence is not an option when lives are on the line, and I hope HUD hears that message loud and clear.”

NBC News found that at least 11 deaths in federally subsidized housing since 2003 were caused by carbon monoxide poisoning, most recently in January when two men died in a public housing complex in Columbia, South Carolina. HUD does not require carbon monoxide detectors in public housing and has been slow to combat the hazards posed by the gas, public health experts and housing advocates say.

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