By AFRO Staff

On Sept. 26, U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, along with Congressman Elijah E. Cummings, Dutch Ruppersberger, and John Sarbanes announced $9.7 million in federal funding to address lead-based paint in Baltimore. The funding, awarded through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, will allow Baltimore to work to eliminate lead-based paint hazards in low-income private housing.

“All children deserve to grow up in a safe and nurturing environment. Even the smallest amount of lead can harm the development of the brain and nervous system,” said Senator Cardin, a senior member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and Finance Health Subcommittee. “These funds help to ensure that Baltimore families who rely on public housing have no reason to be concerned about this risk.”

In this AFRO archive photo (1948), a child died shortly after eating paint from this crib (above). On Sept. 26, The Department of Housing and Urban Development has awarded the city of Baltimore $9.7 million to address leadbased paint concerns in low-income communities.

“Families shouldn’t have to worry about their children’s exposure to lead, especially in their own homes. We know that there are no safe levels of exposure for children, and we must do more to reduce this risk. This funding will go directly to that effort and will improve the standard of living for Baltimore residents,” said Senator Van Hollen, a member of the Budget and Appropriations Committees. “I will continue working in the Senate to provide resources to support the health, safety, and well-being of our children.”

“Lead poisoning is one of the most preventable environmental diseases, and tragically still far too many of our children have been affected and face a lifetime of possible health problems. For the sake of our children and generations yet unborn, we must do everything in our power to eliminate lead-based paint hazards in our community,” said Congressman Cummings.  “I commend HUD for awarding this grant to Baltimore to provide the city with the resources needed to keep our city, especially our children, safe and healthy.”

“Baltimore City has nearly three times the national rate of lead poisoning, which disproportionately affects African-American children living in old, distressed housing. These grant funds are critical to ensuring our children are growing up in healthy households with every opportunity to thrive and succeed in school and in life,” said Congressman Ruppersberger.

“For far too many children in Baltimore City, exposure to lead-based paint poses serious long-term health problems and can lead to developmental disabilities,” said Congressman Sarbanes. “This significant federal investment in lead-based paint remediation and hazard reduction will help improve public health across our city.”

In this AFRO archive photo Mrs. Iona Lowery of 944 W. Saratoga Street points to the peeling paint on the front of her home where her two-year-old daughter, Bessie, picked up paint chips on which to nibble. Bessie is now in serious condition at University Hospital suffering with lead poisoining.

“This federal grant represents a real lifeline for some of our city’s most vulnerable residents who have been exposed to lead-based paint,” said Baltimore City Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young. “The dangers associated with lead paint are real and life-altering. The funding secured by members of our Congressional delegation will allow us to better protect young children who are most at risk of exposure to lead.”

$9.1 million of the funds were awarded through HUD’s Lead Based Paint Hazard Control and Lead Hazard Reduction Demonstration grant programs to identify and eliminate lead-based paint hazards in low- and very low-income private housing where children under six years of age live. Baltimore was, in part, awarded the funding because it is a jurisdiction with a higher number of pre-1940 rental housing and higher rates of childhood lead poisoning cases.  $600k of the funds were awarded through HUD’s Healthy Homes grant program to address housing-related hazards in a coordinated fashion.

In August, the members announced $898,750 in federal funding for the Housing Authority of Baltimore City to conduct lead-based paint risk assessments, inspections, abatement, interim controls, and clearance examinations.