According to a news release by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) awarded today more than $2 million to three public housing authorities (PHAs) in Pennsylvania to identify and reduce lead-based paint hazards in older public housing units. Nationally, $27.8 million is being awarded to 38 PHAs in 25 states.
Provided through HUD’s Public Housing Capital Fund, these grants will be targeted to approximately 2,800 public housing units across the country, most of which are currently occupied by families with young children.
“We have no higher calling than to make certain the public housing that taxpayers support is healthy for our vulnerable families to live in,” said HUD Secretary Ben Carson. “As a doctor who treated many young children, I witnessed the close connection between health and housing. Today, we make another critical investment in the futures of young children growing up in public housing.”
“In June, we hosted our first Mid-Atlantic Lead and Healthy Homes Summit,” said Joe DeFelice, regional administrator of HUD’s Mid-Atlantic region. “Pennsylvania’s $2 million in grant funding comes on the heels of that information-packed event, with public housing authorities receiving the support they need to keep public housing communities lead-safe and healthy.”
Although lead-based paint was banned for residential use in 1978, HUD estimates that about 24 million older homes still have significant lead-based paint hazards today. However, homes receiving rental assistance, including public housing, tend to have a lower prevalence of lead-based paint hazards compared to private housing. While most public housing has already undergone abatement, there are still some properties where lead-based paint remains and hazards have redeveloped.
Lead-contaminated dust is the primary cause of lead exposure and can lead to a variety of health problems in young children, including reduced IQ, learning disabilities, developmental delays, reduced height, and impaired hearing. At higher levels, lead can damage a child’s kidneys and central nervous system and can even be deadly.
In addition to the funding announced today, HUD will award a record $330 million later this year to clean up lead-based paint and other housing-related health and safety hazards in privately owned low-income housing. Watch Secretary Carson discuss the importance of HUD’s efforts to protect young children from lead.
In 2017, HUD published a new rule lowering the Department’s threshold of lead in the child’s blood to match the more protective guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This important change to HUD’s Lead Safe Housing Rule allows for a faster response if a young child is exposed to lead-based paint hazards in their HUD-assisted homes.
Since 1993, HUD has awarded more than $2 billion in grants to communities for identification and control of lead-based paint hazards in over 200,000 low-income privately owned housing units.