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Covington Program Receives $1.66 Million to Fight Lead-Based Paint in Homes

The City of Covington recently launched its first lead-based paint hazard reduction program.

The city received a federal grant worth $1.66 million for the program.

"We've spent months writing guidelines and preparing to roll out this program, and now we're ready to go," said Jeremy Wallace, the city's federal grants manager.

Now, the city is looking for applications from specific addresses.

The application packet and program guidelines can be found online at the city's website or picked up at City Hall (20 West Pike St.). 

Wallace said the program is expected to help about fifty-eight homes over three years.

An inspector will test the premises for lead. If lead is found, contractors will be hired to either remove and replace the lead-painted part of the house (such as plaster, baseboards, windows and doors, and other trim pieces), remove the paint from it, or enclose/encapsulate the paint. The work would generally take ten days or less, a news release said.

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 paintcould 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.

The city is working with the Northern Kentucky Health Department to identify residences where kids are already suffering from lead poisoning, and those will be given top priority, Wallace said.

Eligible properties include owner-occupied homes, rental units, and vacant units. All units must be located in Covington and must have been built before 1978. Some of the requirements for owner-occupied homes include household income limits and that units be occupied with children under 6, pregnant women, or children under 6 who visit frequently. And requirements for rental units and vacant units include household income limits and that units are either occupied or made available to households with children under 6.

The application must be made by the property owner but a tenant can bring a property to the city's attention, he said.

For outreach, marketing, and referrals, Covington officials are working with a variety of partners besides the health department, including:

  • 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. 

City Housing Development Specialist Archie Ice II said officials can help people fill out the application.

"Lead is a real problem, but it's difficult to get people to understand the risks, since the symptoms of lead poisoning show up over time," Ice said. "If you take these steps now, your children won't be put at risk."

The funding comes from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and Covington is the only local government in Kentucky to be awarded money. 

-Staff report