Covington Gets $1.37 Million to Target Lead-Based Paint

The City of Covington received a federal grant to fund a program to protect children from lead-based paint in older homes.
The funds come from the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development's Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Program.
Covington is the only local government in Kentucky to receive the funds after a competitive application process, according to a news release.
The money is expected to arrive by March 31 and the city plans to implement a program in the summer, said Jeremy Wallace, the city's federal grants manager.
Congress outlawed the use of lead-based paint in homes in 1978 after researchers and health professionals determined that breathing its dust or swallowing tiny chips of paint could cause an array of health problems, especially in young children. These include damage to the brain and other vital organs, like the kidneys, blood, and nerves.
"It's a big problem in Covington because we have so many older homes, because some of them are in bad condition, with the paint chipping and peeling, and because we have a large number of children in low-income households living in such homes," said Wallace, who oversees the federal Community Development Block Grant and HOME programs in Covington.
Various departments and offices in city government will work with seven outside partners to first identify houses and rental units where children are already suffering from lead poisoning, based on elevated blood levels, and to assess other homes at high risk for the presence of lead-based paint.
Contractors will be hired to either remove and replace the lead-painted part of the house (such as plaster, baseboards, windowsills, and doors); remove the paint from it; or enclose/encapsulate the paint.
The cost for making any individual housing unit lead-safe is typically about $15,000 to $20,000, Wallace said.
"So along with the expenses of things like training, assessment, testing, and outreach, we estimate that we'll be able to zero in on 45 homes during the three years of the program," he said.
The outside partners - with whom the City will contract for outreach, marketing, and referrals - are: 
  • Northern Kentucky Health Department.
  • Northern Kentucky Community Action Commission.
  • Kentucky Commission on Human Rights.
  • Children Inc.
  • The Center for Great Neighborhoods.
  • Housing Opportunities of Northern Kentucky.
  • The Covington Neighborhood Collaborative. 
Wallace said Covington won the grant for a number of reasons, including its high risk. Using formulas that took into account factors like the age of its housing stock and the number of children under age 6 living in low-income households, HUD estimated that 1,760 housing units in Covington - or over 10 percent of those in the City - would be eligible for the program.
-Staff report
Photo provided