Representatives Waters, Cleaver, Torres, Ocasio-Cortez, and Dean Submit Letters Demanding Answers on Tragic Housing Fire Deaths

House Financial Services Committee Chair Maxine Waters (D-CA) and members of the committee, including Representatives Emmanuel Cleaver (D-MO), Richie Torres (D-NY), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Madeline Dean (D-PA), sent on January 13 letters to HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge and officials from New York City and Philadelphia after two fires in federally assisted housing located in the Bronx, NY and Philadelphia, PA killed 29 residents, including 17 children.

The letters presented six questions about HUD’s and the city housing authorities’ role in preventing and responding to the tragedies, and how HUD can improve the safety of federally assisted housing units. Despite failing a 2017 Real Estate Assessment Center (REAC) inspection, the Philadelphia property did not receive a follow-up inspection, allowing the “life threatening fire safety violations” to continue unabated.

“Unfortunately, this tragedy highlights the unsafe and inadequate housing conditions that too many families currently face across the country and our nation’s affordable housing crisis that forces families to accept such conditions,” the letter stated. “However, it is egregious that preventable life-threatening events continue to happen in housing supported by the federal government. Every family should be able to live safely in their homes. This is a systemic issue that has a solution.”

The members of Congress also discussed the housing provisions in the “Build Back Better Act,” which would provide $65 billion to make urgently needed repairs to public housing, $1 billion to improve conditions in HUD-assisted multi-family properties, and $1.75 billion to increase capacity for building inspections.

Read the press release and text of the letters at: