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Sen. Rubio, Rep. Wilson Address Safety Standards In Low Income Communities

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio.
Gage Skidmore / Flickr
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio.

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and U.S. Representative Frederica S. Wilson (D-Miami) have introduced the Safe Temperature Act and re-introduced the Liberty City Rising Act, two pieces of legislation designed to address safety concerns in low income communities.

The Safe Temperature Act, introduced Thursday as S.17 in the Senate and H.R.235 in the House, would allow the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to require properties receiving federal assistance to maintain temperatures between 71 and 81 degrees fahrenheit.

According to Rubio, the new legislation was drafted in response to tenants in Miami’s oldest public housing project, Liberty Square, not having access to air conditioning, forcing them to live in hot temperatures, as was reported in the Miami Herald.

Under the legislation, residents would not be required to buy heating or cooling units, but they would be required to pay a surcharge for electric usage.

Senator Rubio introduced the Liberty Rising Act, S.2856, in 2018 after visiting Liberty Square. The companion bill, H.R.5987, was filed in the House by Rep. Wilson.

The Liberty Rising Act would require Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) with traditional public housing and project-based section 8 properties in high-crime areas to make sure those properties have working security cameras, dead-bolt locks on all entry doors, smoke detectors in all common areas as well as covers on security camera boxes and covered security camera wires.

The legislation would also establish an anonymous PHA operated crime-reporting hotline for tenants and it would require HUD to give priority to high-crime PHAs when it’s awarding Emergency Safety and Security grants.

“During my visit to Liberty City last year, I heard firsthand from a community that has been fraught with violence and dangerous living conditions for far too long,” said Rubio. “I will work to pass the Liberty City Rising Act and the Safe Temperature Act as a means to ensure that communities, like Liberty Square, are held to higher safety standards so that these families can raise their children in safe and sanitary living conditions.”

“In a city like Miami, where the cost of living is well above the national average, public housing is often also the most affordable for low-income families and individuals. The Safe Temperature and Liberty City Rising acts are important steps toward ensuring that federally assisted developments like Liberty Square are safe and healthy environments in which tenants, especially children and the elderly, can live comfortably,” said Congresswoman Wilson. “No one should be forced to live in discomfort or in danger simply because they are poor. I am excited to partner with Senator Rubio to advance these measures.”

Brendan Rivers can be reached at brivers@wjct.org, 904-358-6396 or on Twitter at @BrendanRivers.

Copyright 2020 WJCT News 89.9. To see more, visit WJCT News 89.9.

Brendan Rivers comes to WJCT News with years of experience reporting and hosting news for several stations in the Daytona Beach area.