FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 15, 2003
Press contact: Carol Abrams (212) 863-5176
HOUSING PRESERVATION AND DEVELOPMENT COMMISSIONER ANNOUNCES RECEIPT OF $3.1 MILLION IN FEDERAL GRANTS FOR LEAD PAINT SAFETY
Housing Commissioner Jerilyn Perine announced that the City's housing agency has been awarded two federal grants totaling $3.1 million for lead paint hazard reduction through HPD's Primary Prevention Program. Since 1995, the City has been awarded $11.3 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to treat apartments in high-risk neighborhoods where there are greater numbers of children with elevated blood lead levels. The City added $6.9 million in City funds so that 1,634 apartments in high-risk neighborhoods could become "lead safe."
Housing Preservation and Development was awarded $2.6 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Demonstration Lead Reduction Grant. This is a three and a half-year grant from the Office of Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control, beginning on October 1, 2003. The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is HPD's co-grantee. The targeted neighborhoods are West Queens and parts of the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Bedford-Stuyvesant, East Flatbush/Flatbush, Crown Heights, Bushwick and East New York. The new funding will pay for another 300 apartments in high-risk neighborhoods to become "lead safe."
HPD also has been awarded $500,000 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Lead Outreach Program. The Lead Outreach Grant targets the neighborhoods of Astoria, Queens and East Flatbush/Flatbush, Brooklyn and will target 175 apartments in those areas for lead hazard reduction treatments. This two-year grant will pay for the cost of outreach; City funds will pay for the cost of treatment.
The Primary Prevention Program, a joint initiative between the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, 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 that results from deteriorated lead-based paint in apartments. 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. In addition to federal funds, the Primary Prevention Program is also supported by city capital money to address lead-based paint hazards citywide
"New York City has one of the most aggressive program of primary prevention in the United States. New York City was among the first to ban lead paint in 1960. Our lead hazard reduction law preceded the federal government's Title X rules. We spend more money than other municipalities on direct work to reduce lead hazards," said HPD Commissioner Perine. "Thanks to intervention programs like this one, the number of newly diagnosed cases of childhood lead poisoning has declined by 80% over the last six years."
The Program targets neighborhoods where childhood lead-poisoning rates are higher than in other neighborhoods. Many of the buildings treated with prior grants have been in Washington/Hamilton Heights in Manhattan; Fordham Road and Bronx Park East in the Bronx; Williamsburg, Bedford Stuyvesant, Crown Heights, East Flatbush/Flatbush, Bushwick in Brooklyn, and West Queens and Jamaica in Queens.
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 $6,000-$7,000 per apartment, the average cost of lead treatment. Owners, in turn, hire contractors who are trained in EPA certified courses in lead treatment. HPD inspects the work.
The buildings involved in the initiative must meet the following criteria:
Buildings built prior to 1960 include one and two family as well as mutli-family sites;
Over 80% 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);
Due to the preventive nature of the grant program, buildings with many families with children under six years of age, including pregnant mothers and families who provide day care services to children under six years of age for at least twenty hours a week, are ideal for participation in the grant program;
Under federal funds the targeted areas are West Queens and Astoria, Queens, Bedford Stuveysant, Crown Heights, East New York, East Flatbush-Flatbush, Williamsburg and Bushwick in Brooklyn, and City funds will support buildings Citywide; and
The owner(s) must be current on all City taxes and judgments at the time of identification.
Building owners who would like more information about the Primary Prevention Program may call (212) 863-6389.
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.