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NYC Department of Housing Preservation & Development
Press Room


April 6, 1999

Carol Abrams
(212) 863-5176

Cassandra Vernon
(212) 863-8076


HPD Commissioner Richard T. Roberts announced that 750 apartments in New York City have become "lead safe" through the strategic use of federal funding by the agency. In addition, the Commissioner announced that another 50 apartments will be lead safe by the end of fiscal year 1999.

The Primary Prevention Program, a joint initiative between the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) and the Department of Health, uses funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to offer grants to building owners for lead treatment. This initiative addresses a serious environmental threat to young children: lead dust generated as residential lead-based paint deteriorates. The program, part of a broad City strategy to lower the hazards from lead-based paint, provides grants to owners of multi-unit apartment houses built before 1960, the year New York City banned the use of lead-based paint.

"Through the Primary Prevention Program, we are protecting the City's most valuable resource - our children - from the harmful effects of lead dust that is created when lead paint deteriorates," said HPD Commissioner Roberts.

"Thanks to intervention programs like this one, the number of newly diagnosed cases of childhood lead poisoning has declined by over 40% since 1994."

The Program targets neighborhoods where childhood lead-poisoning rates are higher than in other neighborhoods. Many of the first 50 buildings to be treated have been in Washington/Hamilton Heights in Manhattan and in Bedford Stuyvesant, Bushwick, and Fort Greene in Brooklyn.

The Primary Prevention Program gives owners the means to make their buildings lead-safe through low-level interim treatment work. Treatment concentrates on friction surfaces - door jams, windows sills and wells, and cabinets - because friction creates lead dust. Building owners apply for City grants in the form of liens valued at $5,000-$6,000 per apartment, the average cost of lead treatment. Owners, in turn, hire contractors who are EPA certified and state licensed in lead treatment. HPD inspects the work.

The buildings involved in the initiative must meet the following criteria:

  • The building has to have been built before 1960 and have three or more apartments;
  • Over 90% of the tenants must be at low-income thresholds (the owner must continue to rent to low-income tenants for three years in order for the lien to be forgiven);
  • There must be at least one pregnant tenant or child under six months; a building with families with small children is ideal for participation;
  • The building must be in one of the target areas: Bedford Stuyvesant in Brooklyn, Washington/Hamilton Heights in Manhattan or the West Tremont section of the Bronx; and
  • The owner(s) must be current on all City taxes and judgements at the time of identification.

Building owners who would like more information about the Primary Prevention Program may call (212) 863-6383.

HPD is the nation's largest municipal housing preservation and development agency. A major responsibility of the agency is to encourage preservation of affordable housing through education, outreach, loan programs, and enforcement of housing quality standards.

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