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Changes to HUD safety regulations worry Clevelanders

Moves made amid inspection system overhaul
HUD Housing
Posted at 6:00 AM, Jul 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-15 06:28:32-04

CLEVELAND — The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is scaling back some health and safety regulations. A recent draft of new standards shows changes in requirements for things like fire extinguishers and outlets for HUD homes.

If this set of standards is finalized, it could impact the remodel of the Buckeye-Woodhill development.

"It doesn't make sense," said Shavelle Hall. She's been living in the development since 2013.

"You walk in our house, and I feel like you wouldn't even know it's a project," Hall said about the unit she shares with her mom. "We have our furniture together. We make sure our house stays clean. We're not messy or anything like that."

That pride is why she was out raking her lawn on Wednesday morning. Keeping the grass by her front door clear is important to her because "there are kids over here that like to play with the dog all the time so we like to keep it nice."

The pride she takes in her home is also why she was upset when she heard about the changes HUD is making to safety regulations.

"Low-income housing is supposed to be for people who don't have and are trying to get — you know," she said. "But they put us in situations where, we're like, stuck."

These changes come amid an overhaul of the department's inspection system for low-income housing developments. New guidelines released in April show changes in requirements for fans or windows in bathrooms, fire extinguishers and electrical outlets.

View the HUD documents outlining changes to fire extinguisher requirements here, and electrical outlet and switch requirements here.

"Our power goes out all the time because we overuse the sockets," she said. "I have so much stuff plugged up in my room."

The first draft of these guidelines was released under the Trump administration.

News 5 reached out to HUD - which is now run by Clevelander Marcia Fudge.

“The current NSPIRE inspection standards are not the final version of the standards. NSPIRE is an ongoing demonstration, and HUD will regularly update the standards prior to implementation based on thousands of demonstration inspections and input from residents, property owners, engineers, academic research, model codes, and other stakeholders. HUD has not eased its safety and health requirements. NSPIRE enhances requirements by expanding the number of health and safety standards that require more immediate attention and creating a resident feedback mechanism. NSPIRE provides a set of standards that protect families; make clear HUD’s property management expectation to owners; and strengthen current standards, scoring models, and protocols used to assess properties. HUD is prioritizing actions that will ensure decent and safe housing is available for all the people we serve.”

"They need to come and ask us because we're the ones living here," Hall said about the changes that could stick and impact her living situation. The development is set for a remodel after a $35 million grant was awarded earlier this year.

"I feel like we could be doing so much better," she said.

Hall's neighbor, Runako Stroud, said it's too early to know what these changes will look like.

"I mean, I don't want to count my eggs before they hatch," she said. "Really, nobody knows what it is so I don't want to make assumptions."

Right now, 5 million families live in HUD-supported housing.

"Everybody can't afford to be living lavish," Hall said. "Everybody can't afford that."