The Vermont Housing & Conservation Board announced that Vermont will receive a $3.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) to continue the State’s Lead Hazard Reduction Program. The funds will be used to control lead paint hazards in the homes of low-income families and to raise awareness about this common and dangerous toxin still found in the majority of Vermont homes.
Program Director Ron Rupp said, “Lead poisoning remains the number one environmental threat to young children, causing permanent neurological and behavioral problems and lowering IQs. Vermont has some of the oldest housing in the United States, much of it containing lead paint hazards, and these funds will be used to make homes safe for families with young children.”
Prevention efforts will also include outreach and public education activities conducted by the Vermont Department of Health and other partners. The award includes $325,000 of Healthy Homes funding to address other health and safety issues in homes undergoing lead paint hazard abatement.
“Too many children in Vermont, and across the country, have been harmed by ingesting lead in their homes. Prevention, by making homes safe before kids get poisoned, is the key to addressing this solvable problem” said Senator Patrick Leahy.
Senator Bernie Sanders said, “Few things are more important than making sure children grow up in healthy and safe homes. More needs to be done to protect children from lead and other hazardous substances.”
Since 1994 the Vermont Lead Hazard Reduction Program at VHCB has addressed lead hazards in approximately 2,400 homes and apartments throughout the State. The program also provides lead safety training to property owners, contractors and child care providers and conducts outreach and public education efforts to prevent lead poisoning. Eligible properties receive free services in the form of testing, risk assessment, work plans, construction oversight, and clearance testing. Homeowners and landlords are eligible for grants and deferred loans to pay certified contractors. To learn more and apply, visit: http://www.vhcb.org/lead.html or call (802) 828-5064.
A number of state and federal regulations require property owners and contractors to deal safely with lead paint and prevent the creation of lead-contaminated dust, the most common pathway for childhood lead exposure. Adults can be at risk as well from exposure at work or from certain hobbies. More information about applicable regulations and ways to prevent lead poisoning can be found at http://www.LeadSafeVermont.org
HUD Secretary Julián Castro said, “Every family deserves to live in a safe and healthy home where they can see their children thrive and excel. Communities will use these grants to help eliminate home-related hazards in neighborhoods across the country. A healthy home is vital to the American Dream.”
Unsafe and unhealthy homes affect the health of millions of people of all income levels, geographic areas, and walks of life in the U.S. These unsafe and unhealthy homes affect the economy directly, through increased utilization of health care services, and indirectly through lost wages and increased school days missed. Housing improvements help prevent injuries and illnesses, reduce associated health care and social services costs, reduce absentee rates for children in school and adults at work, and reduce stress, all which help to improve the quality of life.