Professor Emily Benfer Quoted on Lead Poisoning in HUD Housing
Emily Benfer was recently quoted in an article highlighting the widespread dangerous levels of lead in US Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) subsidized housing in Chicago and across the country. More than 2.5 million HUD subsidized units contains hazardous levels of lead, but HUD requires that a child must actually be lead-poisoned before taking action and measures dangerous levels of lead at a level four times higher than the level recommended by the CDC. Professor Benfer explained that this situation forces families “to choose between lead poisoning and the brain damage it causes or homelessness and life on the streets.”
This is precisely the choice that Tolanda McMullen, a client of the Health Justice Project, was forced to make. Ms. McMullen’s son, Makheil, has had health problems resulting from exposure to lead in HUD housing since he was sixteen months, causing him to struggle with cognitive learning, a speech impediment and attention disorders. Ms. McMullen recently chose homelessness over the continued exposure to lead based paint, but hopes that HUD can find her and her son a safe place to live.
The Health Justice Project, founded in 2010, is a medical-legal partnership between Loyola University Chicago and Erie Family Health Center engaged in interprofessional collaboration to identify and address social and legal issues that negatively affect the health of low-income individuals. The Health Justice Project, along with a coalition of scientists, medical providers, public health experts, and civil legal aid groups, has been active in addressing the issue of lead poisoning in HUD housing. In response to the Health Justice Project’s petition for rulemaking to amend 24 C.F.R. 35, on March 10, 2016, HUD submitted a proposed rule which would adopt the CDC measurement for dangerous levels of lead and would establish more comprehensive testing and evaluation procedures for HUD subsidized housing. This is an important step towards ensuring that families like the McMullens are not forced to choose homelessness over lead poisoning in HUD subsidized housing.
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Loyola wins Health Law Transactional Competition
Loyola students placed first out of 21 teams from 15 law schools across the country at the 6th annual L. Edward Bryant Jr. National Health Law Transactional Competition, held at the Philip H. Corboy Law Center in March. Third-year Loyola students, Mary Buckley, Dino Petrovic, and Michael French, (pictured above with coach April Schweitzer, far left) were competition champions and won the Best Memorandum award.
The Transactional Competition seeks to expose law students to the core competencies of the corporate and regulatory practice of health care law. This year, students were challenged to apply corporate lawyering skills by providing legal advice to a hypothetical public health care system client regarding the strategic, legal, and political issues involved in contemplating a “partnership” or transfer of ownership. The problem allowed students to demonstrate insight into a nuanced part of the health care industry.
Student teams prepared a legal memorandum that summarized their legal and business advice for the client. Students then competed in a boardroom environment before distinguished Chicago attorneys serving as the public health system's board of directors to present their analysis of the client's position in the market, and provide transactional recommendations on how the client should proceed.
Health Law Student & Alumni Cocktail Reception Was a Success
Sheriff Dart and Warden Jones Tapia Discuss Mental Health Care Efforts at the Cook County Jail
The Beazley Institute was honored to host Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart and Dr. Nneka Jones Tapia, Warden of Cook County Jail. Both spoke to Loyola’s Access to Health Care students on the legal and policy issues surrounding mental health care in Cook County’s criminal justice system. They addressed the history of deinstitutionalization in America, how it contributed to the mass criminalization of mental illness and what Cook County is doing to provide humane care to the mentally ill today.
The Access to Health Care course is currently examining access to mental health in America’s criminal justice system and the interplay between criminal behavior and mental illness. Having Sheriff Dart and Dr. Jones Tapia speak afforded students a look inside the largest single-site jail in the United States. It is estimated that about one in three inmates at Cook County Jail have some form of mental illness. Students were able to hear about Sheriff Dart and Dr. Jones Tapia’s innovative efforts to provide quality mental health care to those that are mired in the criminal justice system.
The class will be in Los Angeles, California over spring break to examine access to mental health issues specific to LA County and its Twin Towers Correctional Facility, which houses over four thousand inmates (20% of whom suffer from mental illness).