HUD Awards $51 Million to Clean Up Lead Hazards in Public Housing

Lead HazardsImage by Rebecca Matthews
Funding to identify and control potentially dangerous lead in thousands of homes with young children

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has awarded nearly $51.4 million to 25 Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) in 19 states to identify and reduce lead-based paint hazards in thousands of older public housing units. Provided through HUD’s Public Housing Capital Fund, these grants will be targeted to public housing units currently occupied by families with young children.

“In order to be healthy, it’s important to have a healthy home,” said HUD Secretary Marcia L. Fudge. “Protecting families with young children from lead and other health hazards is an important part of HUD’s mission, and we don’t take it lightly. It is also a matter of environmental justice, and HUD is committed to President Biden’s directive to prioritize environmental justice and equity for disadvantaged communities.”

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. While most public housing has already undergone abatement, there are still some properties where lead-based paint remains, and where 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.

On January 27, 2021, President Biden issued an Executive Order that placed environmental justice at the forefront of efforts to tackle the climate crisis. HUD’s awarding of this $51 million in funding is in line with the President’s order, as lead poisoning disproportionately affects people of color.

The funding is the third round of funding under this program. To date, HUD has awarded $46.1 million to 51 grantees, to make approximately 4,610 units lead safe. HUD has a long history of working to ensure lead-safe housing, which fits into the broader federal response to address lead hazards found in paint, dust and soil, and other sources like water and consumer goods. For 25 years, HUD’s Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes has worked to improve methods to identify and address home-related health and safety hazards, including those from lead. Since 1993, HUD has awarded more than $1.58 billion in grants to communities for identification and control of lead-based paint hazards in over 190,000 low-income privately-owned housing units. In addition, HUD supports research on best practices for identifying and controlling lead-based paint hazards, and conducts an outreach program to raise public awareness and knowledge about lead poisoning.

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