In light of the recent fire in the Bronx that took the lives of 17 New Yorkers, including 8 children, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is announcing the Housing Temperature Safety Act of 2022. Authorities determined that the Twin Peaks fire was caused by a space heater—this bill would require the installation of heat sensors in federally funded rental housing so that federal, state, and local housing administrators can assess heat levels in real time, prevent future fire tragedies, and improve fire safety and housing quality. This legislative effort received the early support of Mayor Adams, who co-authored a similar City law as Brooklyn borough president with then-Council Member Ritchie Torres. Congressman Torres (NY-15) leads companion legislation in the House of Representatives.
“I’m proud to introduce the Housing Temperature Safety Act of 2022 in the Senate to ensure buildings comply with all heating requirements during cold-weather months—this bill will help prevent future tragedies like the one that occurred at the Twin Parks North West community,” said Senator Gillibrand. “My office remains available to help people affected by the fire and I am grateful to Congressman Torres for his partnership during this difficult time. While we can’t change the past, we must do everything in our power to prevent these tragic events from occurring in the future.”
“It is no accident that the four worst fires in New York City’s history in the last thirty years have all been in the Bronx. The tragedy at Twin Parks North West only underscores that we must take federal action to ensure tenants have safe and affordable homes no matter their zip code. Currently what the law requires often falls short of what tenants need to remain warm in their homes. The feeling of freezing in apartments causes tenants to resort to space heaters out of sheer desperation. The introduction of federal legislation to require heat sensors in federally funded buildings will improve standards of living, especially in places like the Bronx where we see the effects of an aging housing market. I am proud to partner with Senator Gillibrand on this bill, and we will push Congress to take immediate action to address the root causes of fires and help save lives,” said Rep. Ritchie Torres.
Last month, Gillibrand was joined by Congressman Ritchie Torres (NY-15), Mayor Eric Adams, and elected officials from the Bronx Fire Safety Task Force during a visit to the site of the Twin Parks North West fire in the Bronx. During their visit, Gillibrand and Torres announced their intent to spearhead this bill in order to hold certain federally funded buildings accountable for heating violations. The Housing Temperature Safety Act of 2022 legislation would create a federal law requiring the installation of heat sensors in federally funded rental housing. This would enable the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and state and local housing administrators to receive information regarding the temperatures of housing units and ensure compliance with the Housing Quality Standards heat requirements. Specifically, the Housing Temperature Safety Act of 2022 would:
- Require the installation of heat sensors in HUD-assisted housing units, including federal public housing, HUD-assisted rental assistance programs, housing for individuals with AIDS, Section 202 housing for low-income seniors, and rural housing assistance programs;
- Requires owners of covered units to collect data from the internet-connected sensors 6 times a day;
- Instructs the HUD Secretary to publish guidance 180 days after enactment;
- Requires a report one year after enactment on the status of implementation. This report would include data collected from the heat sensors and the number of units with sensors, owners who have installed sensors, and fatalities in a covered building related to fire, hypothermia or other temperature-related causes.
Senator Gillibrand is also a cosponsor of the Public Housing Fire Safety Act, which would establish a grant program to provide federal funding for public housing agencies to install automatic sprinkler systems.
For the full bill, please click here.