Posted on October 1, 2003
WASHINGTON - U.S. Senators Bill Frist (R-TN) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) today announced that Memphis will receive $2.6 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for lead paint eradication and awareness. "Lead paint is dangerous and needs to be eradicated from our homes," said Frist. "With over 23,000 children at risk for lead poisoning in Shelby County, it's clear that we have to address this threat. I congratulate Memphis for securing this critical funding, which will help our children have a healthy future." "Keeping citizens safe is one of the most important things we can do, especially when it comes to our children," said Alexander. "This new program will raise awareness about lead poisoning and prevent harm to Memphis families in the future." The $2,599,715 in funding will assist the Division of Housing & Community Development in building upon its success in raising lead hazard awareness and supporting abatement efforts through the creation of the Lead Hazard Risk Reduction Initiative (LHRRI). This program will coordinate marketing efforts with community partners, including local health agencies, community development corporations, and other faith- and community-based organizations. The city intends to complete 500 lead-based paint evaluations and eliminate or control lead-based hazards in 285 units. While rental units will be primarily selected for work under LHRRI, other units occupied by lead-poisoned children will also be included in the program. In addition, the program will develop and maintain a registry for referral and marketing of lead-safe rental housing to low-income families with children under six years of age. Lead poisoning remains the number one environmental toxin for children under the age of six years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). During 2001, the Memphis and Shelby County Health Department Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program reported 13,051 children were screened for lead poisoning throughout Memphis and Shelby County, and 5 percent or 614 children were found to have elevated lead levels in their blood. The Lead-Based Paint Hazard Control Grant Program, operated by HUD, was established in 1992 to reduce the exposure of young children to lead-based paint hazards in their homes. The program provides grants to state and local governments for control of lead-based paint hazards in privately-owned, low income owner-occupied and rental housing. These grants are also designed to stimulate the development of a trained and certified hazard evaluation and control industry. Since 1993, approximately $700 million was awarded to over 200 local and state jurisdictions across the country. The work approved to date will lead to the control of lead-based paint hazards in more than 65,000 homes.