WOONSOCKET, RI - In an effort to promote healthier communities and protect families and children from lead-based paint, U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and Congressman David Cicilline joined with Woonsocket Mayor Lisa Baldelli-Hunt in announcing $4 million in federal lead-abatement funds. 

Woonsocket will receive a $4 million Lead Based Paint Hazard Control (LBPHC) grant to partner with local non-profits, the Childhood Lead Action Project (CLAP) and the Community Action Agency of Providence (CAPP), to fund lead-remediation work for homeowners and renters.  This is the second major grant for lead abatement Woonsocket has won this year.  The first, for $1 million, was awarded in August to remove lead-based paint from the city’s public housing.

The federal grant is administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

“Every child deserves a safe and healthy home.  These federal funds will help eliminate lead-based paint hazards and protect at-risk children and families and it will help us build healthier communities.  Lead poisoning is a preventable tragedy, and we need to do everything we can to give kids a healthy start to life.  There are simple steps we can take to prevent permanent damage from lead poisoning that could last a lifetime, but it takes real resources and collective commitment to get the job done,” said Senator Reed¸ the Ranking Member of the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) Appropriations Subcommittee who secured $319 million for these lead grants nationwide and supported Woonsocket’s application.

“The safest place for any child should be in their own home,” said Senator Whitehouse.  “This federal funding will allow Woonsocket residents to eliminate the lead hazards present in some older houses so that kids can grow up lead-free and healthy.”  

“The greatest responsibility we have as elected officials is to ensure that the next generation of Rhode Islanders have the opportunity to live happy, healthy lives,” Congressman Cicilline said. “This investment of federal funds will assist homeowners and renters in their efforts to remove the threat of hazardous lead-based paint from their homes. I’m proud to work alongside my colleagues at the federal level to ensure that our children and grandchildren have every opportunity to get ahead, and I look forward to seeing these funds put to use creating safer homes throughout Woonsocket.”

“The investment in our community from the Department of Housing and Urban Development supports the city’s commitment to addressing its Lead Hazard Housing concerns. This award will provide the city with the opportunity to maximize its current efforts to provide healthy, safe housing for all Woonsocket residents, especially our children. I would also like to thank our Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and Congressman David Cicilline for their efforts in securing these funds.  We look forward to working collaboratively with our state and community partners to mobilize this funding to improve the overall quality of housing in the city of Woonsocket,” said Mayor Baldelli-Hunt.

According to HUD, 70 percent of lead poisoning cases in the United States are the result of exposure to lead-based paint hazards in the home.  This exposure usually stems from the presence of lead-based paint in homes built prior to 1978 as lead was commonly used in household paint at that time to increase its durability.  In 1978, Congress banned the use of lead in paint for residential use. According to the Rhode Island Department of Health, an estimated 80 percent of Rhode Island homes were built before 1978 and likely contain lead-based paint, which is the most common source of lead exposure to children in Rhode Island.

Lead is a known toxin and long-term exposure to lead can cause serious health problems and impair children’s development. 

The CDC estimates that 535,000 American children under six years of age are affected by lead poisoning.  According to the latest Rhode Island KIDS COUNT Factbook, of the 10,934 Rhode Island children entering kindergarten in 2020 who were tested for lead poisoning, 662 (6.1 percent) had confirmed elevated blood lead levels of ≥5 µg/dL. 

To learn more about protecting children against the dangers of lead in the home, visit: http://www.leadsafekids.org