The federal government has announced two grants totaling $568 million for removing toxic lead paint and making low-income neighborhoods safer by reducing the risk of lead poisoning in young children. According to a news report in USA Today, the grants will be distributed through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and will also focus on mitigating other harmful substances in homes such as carbon monoxide, mold and asbestos.
Funds for Public and Private Homeowners
Studies have repeatedly shown that low-income urban communities such as those run by the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) (the projects) are disproportionately at risk of increased lead exposure. Announcement for this funding comes a year after the Biden administration issued the Lead Pipe and Paint Action Plan. The funding stems from federal dollars provided by the administration’s Infrastructure Law that includes lead service line removal.
About $165 million of these funds will be open to public housing agencies. Another $403 million will be available under HUD’s Lead Hazard Reduction Grant Program to state and local government applicants for homeowners to improve safety in homes that were built before 1978 when the U.S. banned the use of lead-based paints for residential use. This grant is intended for homes owned by low-income families and owners of rentals that house low-income families, officials said.
HUD estimates that about 37 million homes, particularly those built prior to 1978, have some amount of lead paint in them. Even though Congress banned lead-based paint, lead paint remains in older structures. Children living in low-income neighborhoods are in greatest danger, experts say. According to the National Academy for State Health Policy, Black children are three times more likely to have high lead levels in their blood compared to white children.
Why Lead Paint Removal is Challenging
Lead paint removal is a complicated process and can be cost-prohibitive, particularly for low-income homeowners. These families seldom have the resources to fix these types of serious problems. Older buildings are also more challenging to maintain leading to more breakdowns, which in turn result in lead exposure. When lead-based paint deteriorates and flakes off the wall, it can become air-borne and dangerous, especially when young children ingest the paint chips or breathe in lead dust.
Lead is particularly harmful to young children whose bodies can absorb the toxin more easily. Children who are exposed to lead may suffer major developmental delays and long-term or sometimes, irreversible brain damage. Even when exposed to low levels of lead, children may suffer from learning, behavior and speech problems. Several studies have linked elevated lead levels to lower IQ, decreased focus and even violent crime and higher rates of delinquency.
Protecting Your Rights
Whether you have been living as a tenant at a private apartment complex or in a public housing unit (the Projects), please remember that you have legal rights. If your child has been diagnosed with high blood lead levels, regardless of whether you live in public or private housing, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) (the Projects) or private building owners and building managers for damages. Those who have been affected can seek compensation for damages including medical expenses, cost of diagnostic tests, permanent injuries, lost income and benefits, disabilities, past and future pain and suffering, etc.
If your child has suffered lead poisoning, the experienced New York personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Kenneth A. Wilhelm can help you better understand your legal rights and options, and also fight hard to recover just compensation for you.
Our firm recovered $1,162,500 for a child who suffered lead poisoning from paint in her apartment. The child’s injuries were subtle and difficult to recognize. We recovered $162,500 above the $1 million dollar total insurance policy in this case. Despite the judge’s efforts to settle the case for $950,000, we fought hard and recovered $162,500 more than the insurance policy of one million dollars. Also, one of our clients obtained a verdict for $43,940,000 and another of our clients got a verdict for $23,500,000, both in medical malpractice cases.
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