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Public housing agency slow to pay victims of lead poisoning

For many years, we have known that lead paint can be a dangerous product that can harm people. Several lead paint poisoning cases in Baltimore have concluded in judgments in favor of victims, but many injured people have not seen a dime of the payments ordered in their favor.

In at least nine judgments, Baltimore's public housing agency was ordered to pay almost $12 million to individuals afflicted by lead poisoning while living in housing developments run by the housing agency. However, the executive director of the housing agency has repeatedly said that the agency will not pay any of the affected individuals the court ordered damages.

City councilman James Kraft recently decided to make a personal cause out of one individual who, according to the housing agency, will not be paid. After reiterating their intention not to pay at a hearing in front of the council's Judiciary and Legislative Investigations Committee, the executive director explained that they simply could not afford it. He also told the committee that the majority of their assets are federally owned, making them inaccessible to the individuals who are looking to receive payments for their suffering.

In rebuttal, the councilman asked the executive director to receive approval from the federal government to pay one individual a sum of $200,000. The individual, a 24-year-old, was told that he would receive the money two years ago, in 2009.

The public housing agency of Baltimore has one of the highest budgets in the nation for public housing agencies. At $300 million, many would expect the agency to be capable of paying the $12 million that they owe to victims of lead poisoning.

Source: Baltimore Sun, "Councilman seeks federal backing to push city on lead paint payments," Scott Calvert, 7 July 2011

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