HUD’s Office of Public and Indian Housing (PIH) issued Notice PIH 2017-13, providing guidance regarding actions that must be taken when a child under the age of six is found to have an elevated blood lead level (EBLL) living in public housing or housing assisted with a Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) or a Project-Based Voucher (PBV). The guidance is for public housing agencies (PHAs) and private owners of properties using HCVs and PBVs. The Notice focuses on the recent changes to HUD’s Lead Safe Housing Rule (LSHR), which became effective on February 13, 2017 (see Memo, 1/17).
The Notice describes a basic set of responsibilities and the actions a PHA or an owner is responsible for, depending on the form of housing assistance. In general, when there is a confirmed case of EBLL, the HUD Field Office and Headquarters Office of Lead Hazard Control must be notified, as well as the local public health department if the EBLL is identified by a medical healthcare professional not associated with the health department.
The PHA must conduct an “environmental investigation” of the child’s unit and common areas serving that unit. An environmental investigation is a “risk assessment” that poses additional questions to the household regarding other potential sources of lead exposure (such as water and daycare setting) and that tests those other potential sources of lead exposure. A risk assessment includes a visual inspection of a unit and limited wipe samplings. If lead-based paint hazards are found in the child’s unit (the “index unit”), the PHA must perform risk assessments in other units where a child under the age of six lives or is expected to live, as well as risk assessments of common areas serving those units. Random sampling is allowed for buildings built before 1960 that have more than 20 units and for properties built between 1960 and 1977 with more than 10 units.
Where lead-paint hazards exist, they must be controlled (generally within 30 days) by someone certified to abate or remove lead-paint hazards. PHAs must ensure that public housing units and common areas are maintained as lead-safe and must conduct periodic re-evaluations every two years using a certified risk assessor. If the annual amount of PBV for a unit is more than $5,000, the owner must conduct the re-evaluation every two years. In the HCV and PBV context, PHAs must also monitor owners’ compliance, which may be performed in conjunction with periodic Housing Quality Standards (HQS) inspections; HQS inspections must occur no less frequently than once a year if there was deteriorated paint or other known lead-based paint hazards.
The Notice reminds readers that PBV properties receiving more than $5,000 per unit annually are required to ensure that a risk assessment is conducted by a certified risk assessor regardless of whether there is a child under the age of six living in a unit. Advocates have challenged the $5,000 floor as well the policy of limiting risk assessments to units only after a child is discovered to have EBLL (see Memo, 8/14).
Notice PIH 2017-13 is at: http://bit.ly/2vMmRoq