HUD Announces $520M for Lead Paint Protections
On Friday (June 17), U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Marcia L. Fudge announced that the Department had made $520 million in funding available to better protect low-income households from lead-based paint and other home health and safety hazards.
According to the Department’s press release, the funding will be made available to state and local government agencies. It is reported to be the largest lead and healthy homes funding ever made available by HUD to jurisdictions to improve the health and safety of housing in communities around the country.
“Improving housing quality, addressing the inequities that got us here, and advancing environmental justice are of critical importance to us,” said Fudge. “Our Lead Based Paint Hazard Reduction grant program is a crucial part of protecting our children and building the infrastructure for making homes healthy and safe, even after the grants have ended.”
Fudge made the funding announcement while visiting Pittsburgh’s Community Empowerment Association. She was joined by Vice President Kamala Harris, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan, impacted community members and elected officials.
In addition to announcing the funding, the administration officials were also reported to have discussed the Biden-Harris Administration’s historic investments to remove and replace lead pipes and eliminate lead paint hazards.
Lead Grant Program
The latest round of funding is slated to better protect families and children by targeting significant lead and health hazards in over 40,000 low-income homes where other resources are not available.
More specifically, the funding aims to maximize the number of children under the age of six protected from lead poisoning by assisting states, cities, counties/parishes, Native American Tribes or other units of local government to identify and control lead-based paint hazards in eligible privately-owned rental or owner-occupied housing populations.
In 1971, Congress passed the first federal regulation on lead paint with The Lead-Based Paint Poisoning Prevention Act. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a final ban in 1978 for consumer and residential uses of lead-based paints, with some states banning even earlier.
According to the EPA, if a home was built before 1978, it is more likely to have lead-based paint. Homes built prior to 1940 have an 87% likelihood to contain lead paint. While still present in millions of home, it can be under layers of new paint and typically not be a problem.
However, when paint peels and cracks, it creates lead paint chips and dust. Lead dust can also come off of surfaces exposed to friction, such as windows, doors, floors, porches, stairways and cabinets. Prior to renovations or repairs, one should test for lead paint or contact a professional.
A small level of lead in an adult’s system is less than 10 mcg/dL. Anything higher than that number and up to 25 mcg/dL is an indicator of regular lead exposure, while 80 mcg/dL or higher requires medical treatment. However, lower levels can also present symptoms of lead poisoning.
For children and those who are pregnant, those levels should be much lower as there is higher risk. A level of five mcg/dL can cause development problems for an unborn child, while children are at risk with 3.5 mcg/dL of lead in their blood.
Over time, high levels of lead in the bloodstream can cause serious health conditions:
According to HUD, the average blood lead level in children under age six—who are most affected by lead exposure—has decreased by half in the past decade. Despite these accomplishments, roughly half of the homes built before 1978 when lead paint could still be used, still pose hazardous conditions.
Of the $520 million in grants announced last week, HUD’s Healthy Homes Supplements has provided $30 million to help communities with other health and safety hazards in homes where lead-based paint hazards are being treated.
This grant opportunity, which coincides with National Healthy Homes Month, is under HUD’s Lead Based Paint Hazard Reduction grant program. The program identifies and works to clean up dangerous lead hazards and additional health and safety hazards in low-income families’ privately-owned homes.
The grants made available last week will contribute to about 75 communities’ efforts to address the problem by mitigating unhealthy housing, preserving affordable housing, and improving the health and wellness of families and children living in these communities.
HUD’s Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) can be accessed here. Eligible applicants can apply for the funds through Grants.gov.
Paint Action Plan Progress
On the same day Fudge announced the latest round of funding to better protect low-income households from lead-based paint and other home health and safety hazards, The White House released a fact sheet on the progress of the Biden-Harris Lead Pipe and Paint Action Plan.
Announced six months ago, the plan has outlined more than $4 billion from the bipartisan infrastructure law funds and annual appropriations for the replacement of all the nation’s lead pipes while mobilizing additional resources and tools to get rid of lead, ensure Americans can drink clean water and live in healthy homes.
To continue the momentum, the latest round of funding was released to reduce lead exposure and build healthier homes located in disadvantaged communities in line with the president’s Justice40 Initiative.
Other recent critical progress on the plan includes:
Additional progress made on the plan in 2021 and other actions can be viewed here.