The U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development has awarded a $3 million grant to help Indianapolis remove lead-based paint from at least 240 homes or rental properties in the city where children under the age of six are living.
The removal can cost at least $10,000, and the impacted families, who are eligible for the funding, do not have the money.
“The floors, the kitchen, the basement even, it was everywhere,” said Rod Smith, an Indianapolis homeowner who received financial help from a previous grant for the cleanup inside his home.
“I thought we’ve got to get us out of the house or the lead out of the house,” he said.
“If you have lead-based paint that is stable, that’s not a hazard, that’s not going to generate dust or small debris, but if the paint, due to moisture or age is deteriorating, that dust, that’s what we’re going after,” said Greg Stocking with the Indianapolis Department of Metropolitan Development.
Another eligibility requirement is an annual household income; the family has to be earning less than 80 percent of the area median income. For a family of four, that is $52,100.
“We still have 1 percent of our children in Indiana who are tested, who come up positive, and that means a permanent change for that child. They lose IQ points, and they can have behavioral problems as a result,” said Dr. Indra Frank, President of Improving Kids’ Environment, an area organization that will partner with the city on the grant.
There are also concerns outside of homes where lead has contaminated the soil where children play due to chipping paint, leaded gases that were used in vehicles and the pollution from older factories.
“The lead gets in the soil from emissions from cars or commercial facilities that would pump it up in the air, and it would resettle,” said Stocking.
In this situation, the city may replace the soil, dilute it or cover it up.
Two sites where factories have created lead contamination include the former Avanti Site at 502 S. Harris Ave. The EPA performed an emergency cleanup and created a hazardous waste cap on-site where there was a lead smelter for decades.
The other site is American Lead at 1600 E. 21st St. The EPA tested 200 nearby properties, concerned about residual lead contamination back in 2005.
“My message would be, of course, get it done. Children deserve a lead-free environment,” said Smith.
Apartment complexes can also apply for the funding. The management companies will, however, be responsible for 20 percent of the cleanup costs, and they will have to make a multi-year commitment to house the families that meet the grant’s eligibility requirements in the units that were repaired.
More information about the grant is available online.