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Senators announce millions in federal funding to help address lead paint hazards

Deteriorating paint in homes represents most of the risk of lead poisoning for young children in Monroe County.
Environmental Protection Agency
Deteriorating paint in homes represents most of the risk of lead poisoning for young children in Monroe County.

U.S. Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand on Saturday announced $5 million in federal funding for the city of Rochester under the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s High Impact Neighborhood Program and $600,000 in Healthy Homes Supplemental Funding, and $1.3 million for Genesee County under HUD’s Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Program.

The New York Democrats say 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.

“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 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. “

Last month, local health officials said that the number of young children with elevated blood lead levels in Monroe County has dropped slightly.

The percentage of children younger than 6 who tested positive for elevated blood levels last year was 1.14%, down a fraction of a percent compared to 2017.

The data showed some local children are at a much higher risk of lead poisoning than others, according to the nonprofit advocacy group Coalition to Prevent Lead Poisoning.

The vast majority of Monroe County children who showed elevated blood lead levels in tests last year lived in ZIP codes that fell inside the city of Rochester, according to the county’s data.

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.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.