Columbia Housing Authority ‘glad’ HUD makes $5 million available for CO2 detectors

COLUMBIA, S.C. — (WLTX) — The US Department of Housing and Urban Development is making $5 million in federal money available to make public housing safer.This money is to help public housing authorities purchase carbon monoxide detectors.

“We are glad that HUD has stepped in and made this a nationwide approach to addressing this issue,” Columbia Housing Authority Director of Administration Taleshia Stewart said.

More than five months since carbon monoxide poisoning killed two men at Allen Benedict Court apartments HUD is adding resources to make public housing units safer. 

“We think overall it’s going to help housing authorities across this nation,” Stewart said. “We’re very excited about this happening and our concern is basically health, making sure that our housing developments are healthy.”

Stewart said they have since put carbon monoxide detectors inside all the properties they own, except the property the gas leak happened at.

“We have a total of, it’s over 1,800 public housing units, of course that includes our Allen Benedict Court developments, and we did not install any detectors in Allen Benedict because at some point we will be demolishing it,” Stewart said.

Stewart said they already spent around $60,000 to install detectors inside their units, so at the moment this new funding won’t necessarily effect them right now, but could in the future

“The money that HUD has allocated for housing authorities will definitely be helpful to other housing authorities,” Stewart said. “Hopefully at some point, if possible, we may try to request funds to recoup if need be.”

About a month ago HUD sent a notice to all public housing authorities and subsidized housing telling them the detectors will now be mandatory. HUD said this funding is the first time they’ve created grants specifically for purchasing carbon monoxide detector

US Senator Tim Scott, who back in late march sent a letter to HUD Secretary Ben Carson and asked that HUD require inspections for carbon monoxide detectors said this was an exciting announcement. 

“The incident in Columbia I think was a lesson for the nation, and the good news is Dr. Carson and HUD responded consistent with the request of our letter and we are excited that more people will live in places that are safer for them and their kids,” Senator Tim Scott said. 

Out of 237 families that were relocated due to Allen Benedict Court evacuations, the housing authority said four families remain in hotels but have identified a unit.