$3.2M grant to fund Fort Wayne lead paint solutions

Lead paint is seen flaking off a porch. Lead paint causes health problems and environmental lead contamination. The city of Fort Wayne has received a federal grant to mediate and educate about lead paint. CONTRIBUTED

FORT WAYNE — Fort Wayne’s Office of Housing and Neighborhood Services will receive a federal grant of nearly $3.2 million to remove lead paint in older city homes as well as conduct testing and perform education about the hazard.

Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry on Dec. 20 announced that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded the grant as part of $139 million given to state and local governments across the country, according to a statement. Fort Wayne received the largest grant amount in Indiana, with South Bend and Michigan City both earning awards of $2.3 million.

The money will be used to remediate lead paint in nearly 140 Fort Wayne homes in high-risk census tracts, or areas with older homes and high numbers of children living in poverty. City staff estimates about 67,000 Fort Wayne homes were built before 1978, when lead paint was banned in U.S. housing. This represents 66 percent of the city’s housing stock.

“Exposure to even small amounts of lead can cause significant and long-lasting health issues for young children,” Kelly Lundberg, director of the city’s Office of Housing and Neighborhood Services, said in a statement. “That’s why we’ll use these grant dollars to not only remediate lead paint but also educate residents about lead paint hazards and offer opportunities for free lead testing.”

Ways of dealing with lead paint in homes includes replacing or repainting windows with peeling paint, which can cause lead dust to contaminate floors and toys, repainting walls and replacing carpet and exterior siding.

The city recently received a $680,000 lead paint remediation grant from the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority in October. That money will pay to handle lead paint in nearly 40 local homes.

For more about the dangers of lead poisoning, go to the Allen County Health Department’s website at www.allencountyhealth.com.