|HUD No. 00-227|
|Further Information:||For Release|
|In the Washington, DC area: 202/708-0685||Thursday|
|Or contact your local HUD office||August 24, 2000|
HUD ANNOUNCES $105 MILLION TO HELP COMMUNITIES PROTECT CHILDREN FROM THE DANGERS OF LEAD
WASHINGTON - Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo today announced a comprehensive multimillion dollar program to further help communities protect children from the dangers of lead poisoning.
HUD will provide $84 million to conduct lead testing in federally funded, low-income housing and more than $20 million to train additional inspectors and other workers, including maintenance and renovation specialists, to carry out HUD's new lead safety regulations that take effect on September 15.
"Every family deserves to live in a home safe from the dangers of lead," Cuomo said. "Since 1992, HUD has committed over a half a billion dollars to lead-safety programs in more than 200 cities. Today, we are expanding our commitment, by helping to ensure that all communities have access not only to affordable housing, but housing that is lead-safe."
Lead poses a serious health risk, particularly to children, and can cause permanent damage to the brain and other organs. In the U.S., nearly a million children under the age of six suffer from lead poisoning. Children from low-income families are five times more likely to suffer from lead poisoning and minority children are disproportionately affected.
Lead poisoning has been linked to juvenile delinquency and behavioral problems. Research shows that children with elevated blood lead levels are seven times more likely to drop out of school and twice as likely to lose a few years in language acquisition.
HUD's new lead safety regulations address the latest scientific evidence that suggests most children who suffer from lead poisoning are exposed to invisible lead dust that is released when paint is peeling, damaged or disturbed. Lead dust settles on floors and other surfaces where it can easily come into contact with children's hands or toys and into their mouths.
Today's announcement will help communities expand the necessary infrastructure to comply with the new regulations. The new program will provide the first comprehensive inspection of all housing developments receiving federal project based assistance that were built before 1978, the year lead-based paint was banned for residential use. These funds will also help defray the costs of risk assessments and clearance testing in privately owned, low-income units. Risk assessments are conducted to determine whether lead hazards are present in a home. Clearance testing is the process used to declare housing lead-safe.
The funding will provide training in communities where there is a need for more inspectors and workers who are skilled in the proper handling of lead. This will increase the number of people who are qualified to conduct testing and treatment requirements of the new HUD regulations by more than 5,000 clearance technicians and thousands of maintenance and rehabilitation workers.
"This is a major step towards ensuring communities have the capacity to deal with a problem that threatens the health and futures of far too many children," Assistant Secretary for Housing, William Apgar said. Apgar headed up the Department's extensive efforts to develop the implementation strategy for the new rule.
During the first five years, HUD's new lead safety regulations are expected to protect more than two million children living in federally funded housing units from lead exposure.
Dr. Mohammad N. Akhter, executive director of the American Public Health Association said, "We commend Secretary Cuomo and HUD for developing stronger and more effective lead safety regulations and for providing the funding necessary for efficient implementation. As a result of these actions, many children whose health might have been affected by lead exposures will be able to live healthy and productive lives."
In addition to today's announcement, HUD continues its national public awareness initiative, The Campaign for a Lead-Safe America. This effort is designed to educate parents, landlords, homeowners and contractors to the dangers of lead-based paint.
National Groups Support HUD's Lead Safety Efforts
"This win-win approach will set the nation on a road to substantial progress toward eliminating the scourge of childhood lead poisoning. The rule itself, while limited to housing assisted in whole or in part by HUD programs, also sets feasible standards
that private owners can use to address lead hazards that may exist in their housing."
-- Cushing N. Dolbeare, Founder National Low Income Housing Coalition and member of CDC Advisory Committee on Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention
"Families should not be forced to choose between safety and affordability. We applaud HUD's commitment to making publicly-assisted housing lead-safe, which is a good investment that will pay dividends many times over."
--Gregg Haifley, Deputy Director of the Health Division of the Children's Defense Fund
"We are encouraged by HUD's commitment of substantial new resources to help cities and states build capacity to address lead paint hazards. We are determined that safeguards be put in place as soon as possible to protect children still at risk."
--Don Ryan, Executive Director of the Alliance To End Childhood Lead Poisoning
"We applaud HUD's substantial commitment of resources to communities across the country to increase the availability of trained personnel to carry out the regulations. By building capacity at the local level, HUD will not only promote lead safe work practices where federal dollars are concerned, but set a laudable standard for all housing rehab, renovation and maintenance."
-- Chandra Western, Executive Director of the National Community Development Association
"The National Center for Lead-Safe Housing applauds HUD for providing financial and technical assistance to cities, counties and states to help them build capacity to implement the regulation and thereby control the lead-based paint hazards to which children in their areas are exposed."
--Nick Farr, Executive Director, National Center for Lead-Safe Housing
"NAHRO believes that the department has made a tremendous effort to work with the industry in developing a plan that implements this rule in a fashion that is sensitive to the various needs of local communities and the fiscal constraints that exist to address this issue. This agreement is an example of how both the department and industry are working together to solve local problems. We fully appreciate the efforts put forth by Secretary Cuomo, Assistant Secretary Bill Apgar and the HUD Staff in developing a strategy that will protect children."
--Julio Barreto, Director of Legislation and Program Development National Association of Housing Redevelopment Officials
"HUD is sending a clear message that where federal funds are used, children should not be placed at risk to lead paint hazards. Coupled with this message, HUD is delivering much needed resources to communities nationwide to ensure that all of the housing programs it funds produce affordable lead-safe units."
--Janet Phoenix, MD, MPH, Manager of Public Health Programs, Environmental Health Center of the National Safety Council
"HUD's process for implementing the new lead safety regulation is a model for government rulemaking. The Department listened to the concern of the regulated community and responded with an outstanding package to aid communities affected by the regulation that will ultimately protect thousands of children from the dangers of lead."
--Diane Taylor, Council of State Community Development Agencies
"This program is an example of how HUD and industry are working together to solve local problems. We fully appreciate the efforts put forth by Secretary Cuomo, Assistant Secretary Bill Apgar and the HUD Staff in developing a strategy that will protect children."
--Julio Barreto, National Association of Housing Redevelopment Officials