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August 17, 2015

Secretary Kenneth C. Holt
Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development
7800 Harkins Road
Lanham, MD 20706
Dear Secretary Holt:
This past Friday in a speech at a statewide gathering of local and state officials, you said
that mothers in Maryland would deliberately poison their children in order to receive free
housing.1 These remarks are incredibly offensive and insensitive to the plight of mothers of
children with lead poisoning in our State – to say nothing of Marylanders in need of safe,
affordable shelter. Furthermore, your remarks betray a shocking and complete lack of
understanding of Maryland law as it relates to a landlord’s responsibility to provide rental
property free of lead.
For these reasons, we, the undersigned, call on you to tender your resignation as Secretary of the
Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development.
As Secretary of the Department of Housing and Community Development, you should be
familiar with Maryland law as it relates to lead paint liability. Legislation was passed in 1994 on
this issue. Maryland law does not require a landlord to provide free housing until an exposed
child turns 18. It only requires that the landlord provide safe housing while lead abatement is
performed at the original housing site.
You should also be aware that the legislation that passed in 1994 was highly effective. The
Maryland Department of the Environment’s 2013 Annual Report on Childhood Blood Lead
Level Surveillance in Maryland shows that the number of children in our state with an elevated
blood lead level (BLL) decreased from 14,546 in 1993 to 371 in 2013.2 Just in Baltimore City,
1

“Housing chief suggests mothers may deliberately expose children to lead.” Dresser, Michael and Timothy B.
Wheeler. Baltimore Sun. August 14, 2015. http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/bs-md-lead-liability20150814-story.html
2
“Childhood Blood Level Surveillance in Maryland: Annual Report 2013.” Maryland Department of the
Environment.

the number of children with an elevated BLL decreased from 12,908 in 1993 to 218 in 2013.
This is directly attributable to the legislation enacted in 1994 and the strong lead paint poisoning
regulations currently in place in Maryland.
Your remarks are particularly insensitive to African-Americans, who have been
disproportionately harmed by the devastating effects of lead paint poisoning. A national survey
done by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Healthy Homes
and Lead Hazard Control found that while there has been a significant decrease in the percentage
of white families living in homes with a serious lead based paint hazard, the percentage of
African-American families has actually increased from the previous survey performed in 1999.3
The Secretary of Housing and Community Development administers the State funds to assist
homeowners and landlords lessen the risk of lead poisoning and preserve the housing stock by
reducing or eliminating lead-based paint hazards.4 Your offensive remarks raise grave concerns
related to your ability to administer those funds and ensure safe, affordable housing for all
Marylanders.

Sincerely,
Delegate Karen Lewis Young, District 3A
Delegate Clarence Lam, District 12
Delegate Eric Ebersole, District 12
Delegate Vanessa Atterbeary, District 13
Delegate Kathleen Dumais, District 15
Delegate Aruna Miller, District 15
Delegate Ariana Kelly, District 16
Delegate Andrew Platt, District 17
Delegate Al Carr, District 18
Delegate Ana Sol Gutierrez, District 18
Delegate Jeff Waldstreicher, District 18
Delegate David Moon, District 20
Delegate Joseline Pena-Melnyk, District 21
Delegate Tawanna Gaines, District 22
Delegate Alonzo Washington, District 22
Delegate Tony Knotts, District 26

http://mde.maryland.gov/programs/Land/Documents/LeadReports/LeadReportsAnnualChildhoodLeadRegistry/Le
adReportCLR2013.pdf
3
“American Healthy Homes Survey: Lead and Arsenic Findings” U.S. Department of Housing and Urban
Development’s Office of Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control. April 2011. P. 36.
http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/documents/huddoc?id=AHHS_REPORT.pdf
4
“Lead Hazard Reduction Grant and Loan Program Fact Sheet.” Maryland Department of Housing and Community
Development. http://www.dhcd.maryland.gov/website/programs/lhrglp/Default.aspx

Delegate Mark Chang, District 32
Delegate Kirill Reznik, District 39
Delegate Shane Robinson, District 39
Delegate Antonio Hayes, District 40
Delegate Jill Carter, District 41
Delegate Samuel Rosenberg, District 41
Delegate Mary L. Washington, PhD, District 43
Delegate Charles Sydnor, District 44B
Delegate Cheryl Glenn, District 45
Delegate Cory McCray, District 45
Delegate Luke Clippinger, District 46
Delegate Brooke Lierman, District 46
Delegate Diana Fennell, District 47A
Delegate Jimmy Tarlau, District 47A

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