Lead Safe Homes Program offers services to homeowners, renters
January 9, 2018
The Lead Safe Homes Program offered by Allegheny County Economic Development (ACED) continues to provide residents with vital financial support for lead testing, hazard remediation, and one-on-one education.
A recently released Allegheny County Lead Task Force report highlighted the public health threat posed by lead in many older area homes and the important role programs like this one play in helping to fix the problem.
“We were honored to have been awarded this competitive grant from HUD so that we can provide the resources to make homes lead-safe throughout Allegheny County, and are grateful for the strong partnerships we have in place to conduct education and outreach, oversee the lead renovations and work directly with clients on intake and eligibility review,” said ACED Director Robert Hurley.
“We encourage parents and guardians of young children who live in homes building before 1978 to call ACTION-Housing to learn more about the program and how it can help identify hazards and repair those to make your home lead-safe for your children.”
The program, which is funded through a three-year grant from the U.S. Housing & Urban Development’s (HUD), as well as funding from Allegheny County and the City of Pittsburgh, gives qualifying applicants an inspection and risk assessment conducted to test for the presence of lead-based paint and to identify all dangerous areas. Once the inspection is complete, a lead hazard control strategy is developed specific to the property.
The program then hires and pays a Pennsylvania State Certified Lead Abatement Contractor to conduct the renovations, which might include window replacement, enclosing exterior trim and components, door replacement, and repairing and repainting lead-hazardous surfaces. Following completion of the work, a visual inspection and lead-dust sampling is performed to ensure the home is lead-safe.
Eligible homes are those built prior to 1978 and are in Allegheny County. Occupants must include a child under age 6, a pregnant woman, or a child under age 6 must spend a significant amount of time visiting the property. Owner-occupant homes must have incomes at or below 80 percent of the Area Median Income.
Tenants must apply along with the landlord to be eligible. At least 50 percent of the total number of rental units assisted must be occupied by families at or below 50 percent of the Area Median Income. Priority is given to a child with an identified elevated blood lead level.
Working with ACED and CountyStats, the Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) is using data to identify priority communities for outreach and education for the Lead Safe Homes Program. Letters recently were sent to new parents living in high-risk communities with information about the program.
“We are fortunate to have resources currently available in our county to pay for lead remediation,” said Dr. Karen Hacker, chair of the Lead Task Force and ACHD Director. “I urge residents to take advantage of the program and help us prevent lead exposure in Allegheny County and make homes lead-safe for our children.”
In 1978, federal legislation removed lead from all residential paint, which protected new projects but did not require removal of existing lead paint found in many homes and businesses. More than 80 percent of homes in Allegheny County were built before 1978, and 41 percent were built before 1950. Without remediation, those homes can, and most do, still contain lead paint.
Despite the large number of older homes in Allegheny County, data suggests the county is making progress in preventing lead exposure and the associated risk to children. In 2016, the percent of children under age 6 with confirmed blood lead levels ≥5 µg/dL (the current reference level defined by the CDC) decreased to 2.3 percent among children tested, a drop of more than 50 percent since 2009. Additionally, in 2016, there were 74 children countywide (0.5 percent of children tested) with confirmed blood lead levels at or above 10 µg/dL compared to 166 in 2010 (1.4 percent of children tested). It should be noted, however, that testing has been voluntary.
Lead is a neurotoxin and a serious threat to public health. There is no safe lead level in children. Lead can cause significant behavioral and learning problems, lower IQ, hyperactivity and ADD, and hearing problems. At high levels, lead can cause seizures, coma, and even death. For pregnant women, lead can cause premature birth and lower birth weights.
Those interested in participating the Lead Safe Homes Program can apply by calling ACTION-Housing at 412-227-5700 or via e-mail at email@example.com. They also can apply online at alleghenycounty.us/leadsafeprogram.
For further information or questions about the program, contact Jennifer Saks at 412-350-1032 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.