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Northern Indiana city doesn’t receive grant to remove lead from homes

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — A northern Indiana city won’t receive a multi-million dollar grant to remove lead from homes in the area, despite some children being poisoned by lead.

Chuck McMannis, director of the South Bend Housing Authority’s lead program, told the South Bend Tribune that no Indiana communities were awarded grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Lead Hazard Control program.

State data shows an unusually high number of children in South Bend had high levels of lead in their blood between 2005 and 2015.

“It was actually national news for us, Gary and Fort Wayne,” McMannis said. “I sent links to stories in our application so they could see we were taking it seriously. It’s a big issue in Indiana — not just in South Bend.”

The department’s senior adviser, Warren Friedman, said other applicants indicated they had stronger plans on how to approach the problem.

The state has received a $3 million grant from another department program to reduce lead. The Lead Hazard Reduction Demonstration money will be used to abate lead hazards in 240 housing units in South Bend, Fort Wayne, Gary, East Chicago, Evansville and Indianapolis. The funds will be divided between the six communities based on need.

South Bend, St. Joseph County and community organizations have agreed to pitch in funds and services totaling more than $1 million in response to the rejected grant applications, McMannis said.

St. Joseph County Board of Health President Dale Deardorff said the grant rejection is a reminder that the community can’t always rely on the federal government for funding.

“We need to kind of refocus what our efforts will be to educate the community on what they can do to make their housing lead-safe,” he said.