January 15, 2020

Wyden and Bipartisan Group of Senators Request Meeting with HUD Secretary on Radon Dangers in Public Housing

Senators’ request follows failure by the agency to provide answers to Wyden and Merkley letter on issue

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., today led a bipartisan group of his colleagues requesting a meeting with Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson to get answers on why the agency has failed to protect tenants living in federally subsidized housing from the cancer-causing dangers of radon and to chart a path forward to resolve this serious health hazard.

U.S. Sens. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Bob Casey, D-Penn., Bob Menendez, D-N.J., Michael Bennet, D-Colo., Angus King, I-Maine, Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., and Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., joined Wyden in sending a letter to Secretary Carson.

Despite a federal mandate to “develop an effective departmental policy for dealing with radon contamination... to ensure that occupants of [public housing] are not exposed to hazardous levels of radon,” recent investigative reporting by The Oregonian showed that tenants of public housing across the country continue to be exposed to hazardous levels of radon. Following the investigation, Wyden and Merkley sent a letter to HUD seeking answers by Jan. 6, 2020 on why the agency has failed to meet its obligations. The agency, however, has not yet responded.

“We write to emphasize our serious concern that the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is not taking all the necessary steps to protect Americans living in federally-subsidized housing from radon contamination,” the senators wrote today in a letter to Secretary Carson. “Because HUD has not answered previously-asked questions regarding the presence of radon in public housing, we respectfully request a meeting with you to discuss ways we can work together to solve this issue once and for all. We are eager to work with you to protect Americans – especially the elderly, those with disabilities, and children and families – living in federally-subsidized housing from the risks posed by high radon levels, and urge you to take swift action to address this problem.”

In addition to a meeting with Secretary Carson, the senators also asked the administration include in the President’s Fiscal Year 2021 Budget a request for funds to sufficiently help public housing agencies test for and mitigate high radon levels in federally-subsidized housing.

A copy of today’s letter can be found here.