U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand today announced $5 million in federal funding for the City of Rochester under the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) High Impact Neighborhood (HIN) Program and $600 thousand in Healthy Homes Supplemental Funding, and $1.3 million for Genesee County under HUD’s Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Program. The senators explained that the funding will allow Rochester and Genesee County to continue addressing and removing lead-based paint hazards in homes throughout the Rochester-Finger Lakes Region, which has been grappling with the threat of destructive lead-based paint for years. Schumer explained that following his relentless advocacy for the City of Rochester and Genesee County, HUD Secretary Ben Carson called him directly Friday afternoon to confirm the funding.
“During my call with Secretary Carson, I made it clear that even forty years after the federal government banned the use of lead paint, children in the Rochester-Finger Lakes Region still continue to suffer the insidious consequences of toxic lead. I’m pleased to announce that he agreed with me, and committed to sending the City of Rochester $5.6 million in federal funding and Genesee County $1.3 million to remove lead hazards from communities,” said Senator Schumer. “I’ve long fought tooth and nail for federal funding and programs that work to remove lead in Rochester area homes, because lead poisoning is an irreversible, preventable tragedy that robs too many children across the region of their futures. I couldn’t be more thrilled to announce today’s fantastic news, which will be a major boon for public health in the Rochester-Finger Lakes region.”
“No child in the Finger Lakes Region should be forced to live in a home with dangerous lead,” said Senator Gillibrand. “This funding is a critical investment to start remediation and help keep some of our most vulnerable families safe. I will continue fighting so that our communities have the federal support they need to remove lead from their homes. “
“Rochester is leading the nation in protecting our children from lead poisoning and has been recognized by the National League of Cities for setting the ‘gold standard’ for providing our citizens with healthy housing,” said Rochester Mayor Lovely A. Warren. “This grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will propel these efforts even further as we strive to completely eradicate the specter of lead poisoning in our neighborhoods. I am grateful to our representatives in Washington, Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand; and U.S. Rep. Joseph Morelle, for helping us secure these funds through their tireless advocacy on behalf of Rochester’s children. Together, we are making tremendous progress in our efforts to create more jobs, safer and more vibrant neighborhoods and better educational opportunities.”
In the Rochester area, according to the Monroe County Health Department, in 2017, over 625 children were poisoned by lead paint. One in ten children tested was found with blood-lead levels at or above the point considered “poisoned”. The senators said that over 95% of all the housing units in Rochester were built before 1980 and could contain lead paint, and two-thirds of those units date to the years before 1950 when paint with very high levels of the toxic metal was common.
High Impact Neighborhood grants from HUD are awarded to cities with a high volume of older housing and low-income families to remediate lead hazards in housing. Healthy Homes Supplemental Funding is awarded to those cities to remediate other types of housing issues, like lead in water distribution systems, materials that can cause asthma or allergic reactions, as well as other impediments to public health and safety.
The purpose of the Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Program is to identify and control lead-based paint hazards in eligible privately-owned housing for rental or owner-occupants. These grants are used to assist municipalities in carrying out lead hazard control activities.