November 22, 2002

City wins $1.9 million HUD grant to remove lead-based paint hazards in older homes

A pilot program started with seed money provided by the City of San Diego is set to expand – thanks to a $1.9 million federal grant that will enable the city to increase efforts to rid older homes of lead-paint hazards.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) awarded the City of San Diego nearly $1.9 million to reduce lead paint hazards in homes where children under six years old reside. The funds will be used in the inner-city neighborhoods of Barrio Logan, Grant Hill, Logan Heights, Memorial, Shelltown, Sherman Heights, Southcrest, and Stockton. These neighborhoods were selected because of the large number of housing units built before 1978, high poverty rates, and large number of children under the age of six – a combination of factors that places the communities at high risk for childhood lead poisoning.

Although the city was not awarded the grant last year, $100,000 was invested from Community Development Block Grant funds for a pilot lead-base paint removal program in Sherman Heights.

The fact that the city already had a pilot program in place was key to securing the grant, according to San Diego Housing Commission CEO Elizabeth Morris, whose agency will administer the new program. Cities that already have working efforts in place stand a better chance of getting selected for funding, she noted. “Our city leaders saw a need, and they acted on it. As a result, families will have healthier homes,” said Morris.

The city’s Housing Commission applied for the funds under HUD’s Lead-Based Paint Hazard Control grant program with the Environmental Health Coalition (EHC) and the Metropolitan Area Advisory Committee (MAAC) as core program partners. Both are local non-profit organizations with experience in lead poisoning prevention education and lead hazard control. Other participants include local health clinics, weatherization programs, and a broad array of community-based and faith-based organizations.

The Housing Commission will administer and monitor the program, with EHC providing education, outreach and preliminary paint testing, and MAAC serving as the contractor conducting the lead-paint removal work.

According to a lead-safe home survey conducted recently by EHC, an estimated 3,150 children under the age of six from lower income families stand to benefit from the new program. Studies have shown that lead paint poisoning can cause reduced I.Q., learning disabilities, behavioral problems and hearing loss. High levels of exposure can damage the central nervous system, cause anemia, kidney failure, and even death.

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