PROVIDENCE, RI - In an effort to protect low-income families from lead-based paint and other health hazards within their homes, U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) and Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza announced today that the City of Providence will receive $3.4 million in federal funding to provide healthy, lead-free housing units to residents.  With help from Senator Reed, the City of Providence has successfully secured funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Lead Hazard Reduction Demonstration (LHRD) grant program to expand the Lead Safe Providence Program (LSPP), which coordinates lead hazard reduction activities with existing housing programs in order to integrate HUD-funded lead poisoning prevention and Healthy Homes interventions with weatherization and rehabilitation initiatives in the City’s most at-risk, low-income communities.  This new grant will include $3 million in federal funding through HUD’s LHRD program and $400,000 in federal Healthy Homes supplemental funding to further the LSPP’s efforts. 

These federal funds will help Providence perform 230 lead-based paint risk assessments and make 200 homes lead-safe.  Additionally, 140 homes will receive Healthy Home interventions, which will reduce home-based environmental health hazards as well as energy costs.  The City will partner in these efforts with St. Joseph Health Center, the Community Action Partnership of Providence, Childhood Lead Action Project, and the Green and Healthy Homes Initiative of Rhode Island.  Additionally, the LSPP will provide $804,579 in local resources from the City and its public, private, and community-based partners.  The City also anticipates $320,000 to be leveraged from cross-referrals to other partner programs, such as through enrollment of LSPP participants into Community Action Partnership of Providence’s Weatherization Program.

“Lead-based paint is far too prevalent in our nation’s homes, particularly in areas with older, distressed housing.  But it’s important to note that the tragic effect lead poisoning has on children and families is preventable, and we must do all that we can to help our communities fight the scourge of lead-based paint and allow our children to lead healthy and fulfilling lives.  These federal funds will help Providence prevent and reduce the exposure of children and families to this toxic substance,” 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.  In the fiscal year 2017 Omnibus, Senator Reed successfully led the effort to provide an additional $60 million in funding for programs that address lead-based paint as well as to include numerous reforms to improve how HUD addresses these hazards.

In March, Senator Reed sent a letter to HUD’s Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes, requesting continued funding through LHRD to expand the LSPP’s efforts and comprehensively address lead hazard reduction and multiple home-based health hazards that threaten the health of young children and families.

“Providence children deserve safe, healthy housing without the risk of lead exposure and the serious health concerns associated with lead paint,” said Mayor Elorza.  “These funds will allow our lead abatement program to continue to address these hazards while creating affordable and reliable housing opportunities for our residents.  I want to thank Senator Reed and our congressional delegation for their tireless advocacy for Providence in Washington.”

Lead poisoning is one of the greatest environmental hazards threatening children throughout the United States.  Children who are exposed to lead can suffer damage to their kidneys and central nervous system, as well as develop cognitive and behavioral problems.  The federal government did not outlaw the use of lead-based paint until 1978.  As a result, any home built prior to that date could contain lead-based paint. Decades later, children continue to be irreversibly poisoned by lead-based paint from ingesting paint chips or exposure to tiny particles of dust.

Living in neighborhoods with deteriorating and aging homes, hundreds of Providence’s children suffer needlessly each year from lead poisoning and preventable housing-based illnesses and injuries, which affect their well-being, education potential, and life prospects.  Low-income families are at risk for eviction, foreclosure, and homelessness and often lack the resources, income, support systems, and connections needed to ensure safe and stable housing.  Low-income, minority residents also remain chronically unemployed or underemployed and without the job skills or accreditations required to compete in the local economy. 

With HUD’s LHRD and Healthy Homes supplemental funding as well as other leveraged funding, the LSPP will reduce lead and other home-based environmental hazards. By reducing home-based health hazards and energy costs, the LSPP will increase housing affordability by lowering financial burdens on families, increasing wealth retention, spurring economic development through increased property values, and stabilizing neighborhoods.

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

  • Make 200 homes lead safe;
  • Provide 230 free lead inspections/risk assessments for owners to identify lead hazards;
  • Complete Healthy Homes interventions on 140 homes;
  • Conduct 100 outreach and education events that support the goal of reaching 5,000 residents, health care providers, community organizations, FBOs, property owners, realtors, and contractors;
  • Provide job training and increased contractor capacity by providing Lead Worker trainings and certifications as well as Green & Healthy Homes jobs training for 50 residents;
  • Support an existing Lead Safe Housing Registry of available healthy/lead-certified rental properties to distribute regularly to community residents who are seeking safer housing;
  • Utilize the HUD Healthy Homes Rating System (HHRS) for efficient field assessments and Scope of Work development for Healthy Homes interventions; and
  • Expand the integrated Green & Healthy Housing Initiative Providence model to produce comprehensive interventions and create more sustainable units.

Senator Reed has worked for years at the federal level to address the dangers of lead poisoning 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.  He has helped secure nearly $52 million for Rhode Island lead poisoning prevention programs since 1998.