PROVIDENCE, RI - In an effort to prevent lead poisoning among low-income families with young children and remove lead-based paint hazards from their homes, U.S. Senator Jack Reed announced today that the City of Providence will receive a $5 million Lead Based Paint Hazard Reduction grant and $700,000 in Healthy Homes supplemental funding.  These federal funds, which are administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), will help Providence address lead hazards in 275 housing units across the city, make houses and apartments healthier and safer for families, and continue to improve public awareness of the risks associated with lead paint in collaboration with medical and social service providers. 

The Lead Safe Providence Program (LSPP) coordinates lead hazard reduction activities and healthy housing initiatives to improve the quality of affordable, safe, and sanitary housing in the City of Providence.  This new grant funding will allow LSPP to work with renters and homeowners to identify and control lead-based paint hazards in eligible low-income homes and help prevent lead exposure in children. 

Lead poisoning disproportionately affects economically-disadvantaged children and can have lifelong, irreversible consequences.  Children who are exposed to high-levels of lead can suffer kidney and central nervous system damage, as well as develop unpredictable cognitive and behavioral responses, and experience growth delays.  Lead-based paint found in aging housing stock is a significant contributor of lead and neurotoxin exposure in children.  The toxin is particularly pervasive in states like Rhode Island that have older housing stocks with many homes built before 1978, when Congress banned the use of lead-based paint for residential use.

In 2018, the most recent year that information is available, 406 children under the age of six in Providence and across Rhode Island were reported to have elevated levels of lead.   These Lead Safety and Healthy Homes grants help prevent the needless suffering of children and families from this preventable environmental health hazard.

“Lead poisoning is a silent scourge and it is one hundred percent preventable.  Some may think we’ve done enough to combat lead poisoning, but we need to keep at it to reduce household dangers and improving the health and well-being of children and families.  This federal funding will help Providence target lead abatement assistance to neighborhoods where lead poisoning rates are the highest and help them get the lead out of the affected homes,” said Senator Reed, the Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) Subcommittee and leading Congressional champion for eliminating lead-based paint hazards.  Last year, Senator Reed successfully included $290 million for lead hazard reduction grant programs.

Using this newly awarded federal funding and the experience gained from successfully managing its previous and existing HUD Lead Grants, the LSPP will utilize a dynamic program to:

  • Perform lead hazard reduction interventions in 275 homes;
  • Provide 300 free lead inspections/risk assessments for owners to identify lead hazards;
  • Complete 250 healthy homes interventions in program units;
  • Complete leverage funded weatherization interventions in at least 50 program units;
  • Conduct 100 outreach and education events that support the goal of reaching 5,000 residents, health care providers, community organizations, property owners, and realtors;
  • Provide job training and increased contractor capacity by providing free lead worker trainings and certifications for 120 residents; and
  • Support an existing Lead Safe Housing Registry.

These funds are in addition to the $12.4 million awarded to mitigate the risk of lead exposure in the cities of Central Falls, Pawtucket, and Woonsocket in 2019 alone.

Senator Reed has worked for years at the federal level to address the dangers of lead poisoning and exposure in Rhode Island and nationwide by increasing funds to remove lead-based paint from homes, educating families about the dangers of lead poisoning, and training inspectors and workers to identify lead contamination in housing.  As a result, over the past decade, the incidence of lead poisoning across Rhode Island, in tests of children under the age of 6, has dropped dramatically.