U.S. HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge visits Baltimore to tout federal home health grants

Standing outside a Baltimore home, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia L. Fudge joined members of Maryland’s congressional delegation and state and city lawmakers Monday to tout the federal agency’s awarding of millions in grant money to help keep more Americans safe from their own houses.

The department, known as HUD, said earlier this month that it would distribute nearly $105 million in grants through its Healthy Homes Production Grant Program to 60 nonprofit organizations and state and local agencies across the country that tackle home health hazards such as lead poisoning. Three groups in Maryland — Enterprise Community Partners Columbia, Green & Healthy Homes Initiative Inc. and Maryland Rural Development Corp. — were selected to receive close to $5.2 million in funding to take on nearly 500 homes.


In all, the 60 organizations will target some 7,400 homes that belong to individuals who earn 80% or less of their areas’ median income, according to the federal agency. Fudge said the department had a responsibility to protect families from untimely deaths and preventable illnesses.

“Children should never have to live in a place where they cannot breathe,” Fudge said. “We cannot, we must not, and we will not allow for children to die for things that we can fix, and we are going to fix them.”


HUD provided some of the funds that went into the work done on the Northeast Baltimore home of Deborah Carter Gaddis, a homeowner with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD. Gaddis cares for her grandchildren inside the home in the Waltherson neighborhood, the site of Monday’s news conference.

The effort, led by the Green & Healthy Homes Initiative, found mold, poor air quality, structural deficiencies, and a lack of other safety features such as smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.

Baltimore City Councilman Ryan Dorsey said Gaddis’ home is representative of the many in his district in need of subsidized upgrades.

“We hear almost every week from somebody looking for some kind of assistance to stay in their homes,” said Dorsey, who represents District 3.

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Fudge and others at Monday’s news conference called on Congress to pass President Joe Biden’s infrastructure agenda, known as the Build Back Better framework. A version of the bill passed in the U.S. House of Representatives last year but has stalled in the Senate. The framework includes a commitment to increase the affordable housing stock and remove lead paint from hundreds of thousands of homes.

U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen said that in addition to Build Back Better, Congress is finalizing its annual budget, which would include some $90 million for HUD’s healthy homes program.

“Clearly this challenge of making healthy homes is something we have to work on,” the Maryland Democrat said. “This is one example and a very important example, of all of us coming together to get the job done.”

In all, organizations in 29 states will receive federal dollars to remediate home health hazards, according to HUD. In December, the agency also awarded nearly $13.2 million in grants to state and local government agencies in three states through its Lead Based Paint Hazard Reduction Grant Program.


Lead poisoning, a pervasive problem nationwide, has been a focus of Maryland lawmakers and nonprofits for decades.

Ruth Ann Norton, president and CEO of the Green & Healthy Homes Initiative, said the federal grants will help the organization reduce childhood lead poisoning, which causes physical and developmental harm.

“This funding will further our goal of ending the toxic legacy of lead and unhealthy housing conditions and will equip us to create affordable, healthy and climate-friendly homes for our most vulnerable and overburdened families,” Norton said. “We applaud HUD’s commitment to creating healthier, more stable and affordable housing for our children, families and seniors.”