A federal grant will give $3.4 million to help Allegheny County residents remove lead from their homes.
It's part of $46.5 million being doled out by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development aimed at reducing lead exposure in more than 3,000 homes, 200 of which are in Allegheny County.
“The majority of the funds will be used towards the necessary efforts to identify lead hazards in eligible families' homes and then to remediate those hazards using certified contractors,” said Cassandra Collinge, assistant director of housing and human services at the Allegheny County Department of Economic Development.
Collinge said the grant will be especially helpful in reducing children's exposure to lead, as 1,000 Allegheny County preschoolers were found with elevated blood lead levels in 2014.
From the grant, $400,000 will be dedicated to half of the recipient households to address other environmental home safety hazards, Collinge said.
County residents or homeowners may begin applying to the Lead Hazard Reduction Demonstration grant program later this year. To qualify for lead inspection and removal, applicants must live in a house built prior to 1978 and have a child under age six who lives in the house or spends a significant amount of time there.
County homeowners must also earn less than 80 percent of the area median income. That means less than $41,912 for a single-person household, according to the most recent census data. For renters, county criteria require less than 50 percent of area median income.
At least 11 agencies, including the Urban Redevelopment Authority, will partner with the county to remediate households. Jessica Smith Perry, assistant director of the URA’s Housing Department, said her agency’s pre-existing home improvement programs in Pittsburgh will be supplemented by the county’s funding.
“We will be working with them to advertise the funding throughout the city and we will have a construction inspector inspecting the work in the whole county,” Smith Perry said.
These local partnerships will allow the county to provide additional services, such as weatherization, to qualified households.
The amount of grant money assigned per organization is still in the works, according to Smith Perry, who said she plans to coordinate with the county to make sure the money is used efficiently by the program.
And county officials agree, according to Collinge.
“We’re excited to have received these funds and look forward to making these resources available to families in Allegheny County to make their homes lead safe," she said.