BILL NUMBER: S1144
TITLE OF BILL :
An act to amend the social services law and the real property law, in
relation to protecting homeless children from lead paint poisoning
To assure that families receiving public assistance and/or other
governmental housing subsidies are not placed in hazardous housing.
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS :
Section one amends social services law section 143-b and creates a new
subsection to bar state and local governmental agencies from arranging
to place families in housing that will be subsidized with state funds
unless the dwelling unit has first been inspected by properly
qualified personnel and determined to be free of lead-based paint
Section two amends the real property law to bar discrimination in the
leasing of rental property against families receiving public
assistance or governmental housing subsidies.
Lead poisoning of children persists as one of the most prevalent and
preventable environmental diseases in New York. At least 10,000
children were newly identified with levels of lead in their blood at
10 micrograms per deciliter (ug/dl) in New York State in 2001. Medical
research indicates that children can suffer permanent, irreparable
damage at blood levels even lower than 10 ug/dl, and that there is no
level of lead ingestion which is without adverse impact. Medical
research also indicates that fetal injuries from lead paint can occur
if women have elevated blood levels during pregnancy.
Because of this, intervention measures that wait until children have
been exposed have limited benefits, and the pursuit of primary
prevention, which means eliminating lead hazards before children are
exposed, has been recommended by the United States Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention and promoted by leading experts in the field as
a critical course of action to protect the health of young children.
Although New York state banned the sale of lead paint in 1970 (l.1970,
ch. 338), seventy-four percent of New York's housing stock was
constructed prior to 1970. At least ninety percent of lead-based paint
still remaining in occupied housing exists in units built before 1960
(when New York City banned lead-based paint). New York State has both
the largest percentage and the largest absolute number of older
housing units with lead paint in the nation.
The deterioration of lead-based paint in older residences results in
increased expenses each year for the state of New York in the form of
special education and other education expenses, medical care for
lead-poisoned children, and expenditures for delinquent youth and
others needing special supervision. The New York State Department of
Health has called for the elimination of childhood lead poisoning in
New York State by 2010.
It has recently been reported in various news media that New York
City's department of homeless services has been placing homeless
families in dwelling units without properly inspecting such units
first to assure that they were free of lead-based paint hazards, and
that as a result such families have been placed in housing that is
hazardous. Social Services Law section 143-b was originally enacted
because of "certain existing evils and abuses *** which have caused
many tenants, who are welfare recipients, to suffer untold hardships,
deprivation of services and deterioration of housing facilities
because certain landlords have been exploiting such tenants by failing
to make necessary repairs and by neglecting to afford necessary
services," (Declaration of purpose and necessity, L.1962, ch. 997, §
1). In upholding the constitutionality of this law, the New York State
Court of Appeals explained that "... welfare recipients have even less
freedom than other tenants of deteriorated buildings in selecting a
place to live ... and the landlords of welfare recipients, secure in
their receipt of rents directly from public funds, have even less
incentive than other landlords to make repairs." MATTER OF FARRELL
V. DREW , 19 NY2d 486, 492 (1967).
This amendment to social services law section 143-b would address the
concern that public funds are misused when they support the placement
of vulnerable families in housing with lead-based paint hazards. In
addition, to address concerns that such amendment would make it more
difficult to find landlords willing to lease dwelling units to those
on public assistance or otherwise receiving governmental rental
subsidies, the real property law would be amended to bar
discrimination in the leasing of rental property such families.
LEGISLATIVE HISTORY : 2007-2008 Referred to Social Services,
Children and Families (S.3043)
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS : Minimal.
EFFECTIVE DATE : Immediately.
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