The city of Allentown will use a $347,500 state grant to reduce lead hazards in owner-occupied and rental housing.
The grant comes from the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s Lead Hazard Control Program.
The money is available to income qualified (at or below 80% of the U.S HUD median income) homeowners or landlords whose tenants are income qualified.
“This is a great opportunity to improve the health of the young children of Allentown,” said Mayor Ray O’Connell. “The grant dollars mean we can create safer homes in the city, protecting children from lead exposure and its deleterious effects.”
Properties will undergo an Inspection/Risk Assessment followed by establishment of a Lead Hazard Control Plan.
A Healthy Home Assessment would be completed to potentially identify 29 types of home hazards. All children under the age of six would have their blood level tested for lead prior to any work on the unit.
Work performed in a property funded fully or in part by the Lead Hazard Control Program is conducted to make the unit "Lead Safe." "Lead Safe" means the property has received a full clearance of immediate lead hazards.
Lead Safe should not be confused with lead-free as there may still be lead in the home that does not pose an immediate health risk to its occupants. Disturbance of paint surfaces could result in a reoccurrence of lead hazard; therefore, routine maintenance of painted surfaces is essential for the minimization of returning lead hazards and the likelihood of a child becoming lead poisoned.
It is recommended that property owners regularly monitor the condition of their properties, to see if there is evidence of deterioration or paint failure. Monitoring of properties should be conducted at least annually by a visual check of past repairs and improvements involving painted surfaces.
Landlords should complete inspections during unit turnover and routine maintenance. It is strongly recommended that a dust wipe test be completed every two years when young children or pregnant women reside in the property.
Interested property owners can request an application and obtain more information about the grant program by calling 610-437-7696 x2682.
In February, the city closed out a $1.3 million 2016 federal grant to complete 53 lead remediation projects in homes where children had been reported as having an elevated blood lead level. The city conducted 138 lead risk assessments, provided outreach and education to more than 2,000 residents, and provided training opportunities to 18 local contractors in lead abatement.
Lead hazard control work must be done by a contractor that is certified and licensed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Allentown is one of few cities that has enacted an ordinance requiring testing and remediation in homes where a child has been poisoned by lead paint. Headed by the city’s Department of Community & Economic Development through the Community Housing Department and the Bureau of Health, Allentown’s Lead Based Paint Hazard Control Program allows this work to take place free of charge to income qualified families.