The Erie County Department of Health is operating a LEADSAFE program funded by two grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development totaling $3.7 million. The goal of this program is to reach as many families as possible in order to prevent lead poisoning and to secure abatement of hazardous lead paint. To qualify for the grant program, the home in question must have been built no later than 1978, and the occupant of the home must meet low income qualifications. In the case of non-owner occupied rental property, it is important to realize that the income of the property owner does not matter, it is the income of the tenant occupant that counts, and a tenant family receiving any public assistance, even WIC , is likely to qualify.

Tenants concerned about whether their house or apartment has dangerous lead-based paint can ask for an initial Home Education Visit by contacting the LEADSAFE Program at 961-6800. The Home Education Visit is funded by HUD’s “Outreach” grant program. As part of the outreach activities, the parent or householder is given information about lead poisoning prevention, and sources of lead poisoning. If the outreach worker sees obvious and imminently dangerous areas of deteriorated old paint, the worker can request an inspection of the premises for lead-based paint under the “hazard control” grant program.

When an inspection under this program reveals lead paint hazards, the property owner is contacted, and assuming the owner or the tenant qualifies, the property owner is given an application for a grant program (providing up to $10,000 per unit) for lead hazard control supplies and labor. Again, there are low income qualifications, but we are advised that these qualifications can be satisfied if the tenant family is low income, even if the property owner is not.

Monroe County is benefiting from similar HUD grant programs. Last year money was restored to HUD’s office of Lead Hazard Control to be used in places such as Rochester and Buffalo to allow for the removal of lead paint. Congresswoman Louise M. Slaughter, a Democrat representing the 28th Congressional District in Western New York, was instrumental in getting passage of an amendment to restore $35,000,000 in federal funding to many local programs aimed at reducing the environmental scourge of lead poisoning.