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Detroit gets $9 million from HUD for lead abatement in homes

Lester Graham
Michigan Radio

Detroit will be spending more than $9 million to deal with lead-based paint in homes. Although lead-paint has been banned since the 1970s, the old paint on walls, floors, and window sills is still toxic and a leading cause of high blood lead levels in children.

The federal grant from Housing and Urban Development had very specific requirements.

Nicole Wyse is Assistant Director with the City’s Housing and Revitalization Department.  She says one zip code in Detroit met those requirements better than any other: the 48209 area code.

“They had this special program and, of course, we applied and we were one of seven cities nationally to get the funding,” said Nicole Wyse, Assistant Director with the City’s Housing and Revitalization Department. 

More than three-quarters of the houses in that zip code were built before 1940 which means they’re likely to have lead paint. Detroit’s application found more than 50 children from that zip code were found to have high blood lead levels in a sampling three years ago.

The lead dust can get into the air by something as simple as opening a lead-painted window.

“It can fall into toys, the carpet. If the baby's crawling, it's now on their hands, they're ingesting it. And so it's really easy for children under the age of six to ingest those hazards. And it can cause irreversible damage to them,” Wyse explained.

They city hopes to enroll 455 households into the program over five years. Residents can apply here.

Lester Graham reports for The Environment Report. He has reported on public policy, politics, and issues regarding race and gender inequity. He was previously with The Environment Report at Michigan Public from 1998-2010.
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