Schumer: Funding Boost Will Help Get The Lead Out Of Upstate Communities

Up to the Minute
Up_to_the_Minute-Thumb-disc_1543346657066.jpg

Senator Charles Schumer announced, following his major push, $304 million in lead-based paint hazard remediation funding for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) was included in the recently-passed, bipartisan spending package.

Specifically, Schumer explained, the spending package appropriated $279 million for HUD’s Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes for Fiscal Year (FY) 2019, which is $49 million more than FY 18, and an additional $25 million for HUD to further assist public housing agencies with lead-based paint interventions. Schumer explained that securing this funding was of the utmost importance to him, currently too many Upstate communities – particularly major cities like Albany, Binghamton, Rochester, and Buffalo – are plagued by lead poisoning and a high number of homes that still contain lead paint. Last November, Schumer visited Syracuse to advocate for a boost in funding for the Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes. 
 
“Forty years after the federal government banned the use of lead paint, it is clear that our children in Upstate New York still continue to suffer the insidious consequences of toxic lead. Lead poisoning is an irreversible, preventable tragedy that robs too many children across Upstate New York of their future,” said Senator Schumer. “However, this federal funding will work to address this significant public health issue by giving localities and public housing authorities the resources they need to beat back the scourge of lead poisoning at the ground level. I’m proud of the role I played in securing this vital federal funding and will keep fighting with everything I’ve got to remove the ever-present threat of lead from our New York communities.” 
 
Schumer said that lead poisoning constitutes a major threat to public health in cities across Upstate New York. In Albany County, there were a total of 152 lead hazardous homes inspected through Albany County’s Lead Poisoning Prevention Program and Childhood Lead Poisoning Primary Prevention Program in 2018. Last year, Rensselaer County reported that 294 children from the ages of 1 to 2 years old had elevated blood lead levels. An average of 90% of inspections found lead hazards in Schenectady County homes. As of 2016 the City of Buffalo alone has nearly 85,000 homes that can be classified as lead hazards, with nearly 12,000 of those homes housing children. In Erie County, 14% of all children tested positive for some level of lead poisoning. Similarly, Chautauqua County measured 12.3%, Niagara County tested 9% positive, and Cattaraugus County tested at 9.2% positive for lead poisoning.  In the Rochester area, according to the Monroe County Health Department, in 2017, over 625 children were poisoned by lead paint. One in ten children that were tested, was found with blood-lead levels at or above the point considered “poisoned”. Schumer said that over 95% of all the housing units in Rochester were built before 1980 and could contain lead paint, and two-thirds of those units date to the years before 1950 when paint with very high levels of the toxic metal was common.
 
Senator Schumer said that lead poisoning is an enormous threat to public health in the Southern Tier as well. Within Chemung County, over 1,600 tests were performed on children each year from 2013-2017. In each of these years, over 10% of those tested had elevated levels of the toxic metal in their blood. These levels remain constant every year. In 2013 through 2015, the rate per 1,000 tested children less than 6 years of age with confirmed lead levels greater than 10ug/dl (micrograms/deciliters) in Chemung County was 21.2, whereas the New York State rate was 5.1 per 1,000 children tested. A study conducted by the Chemung County Department of Public Health uncovered the highest concentrations of elevated lead levels have been found within the City of Elmira. These areas are dense with older homes built prior to 1978 when lead paint was commonly used throughout the nation.  In the city of Elmira, over 98% of the houses were built before the year the federal government banned the sale of lead based paint, and 88%  were built before 1946. Likewise, in Broome County, there are over 72,000 homes that were built prior to 1980, where 5.6% of all children tested displayed elevated levels of lead in their blood.
 
Schumer explained that after years of decreased funding for HUD’s Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes, which administers the Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Program, he has successfully pushed his colleagues in Congress to increase funding in recent years. The office received $110 million per year from Fiscal Year 2014 to Fiscal Year 2016, which was significantly lower than what the program had received a decade earlier. Schumer was successful in securing a $35 million dollar increase for Fiscal Year 2017 and another $85 million increase in Fiscal Year 2018. After securing the increase in funding for 2018, Schumer worked closely with Syracuse officials to deliver over $4.1 million from HUD’s Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes last December, the first time the city received funding from the program since 2012.  This followed Schumer’s visit to Syracuse to push for the funding and a direct call to HUD Secretary Ben Carson. 
 
The purpose of the Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Program is to identify and control lead-based paint hazards in eligible privately owned housing for rental or owner-occupants. These grants are used to assist municipalities in carrying out lead hazard control activities.
 

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Play our Pro-Football Challenge Contest

More Don't Miss

Trending Stories