Three million dollars in federal money is coming to Minneapolis for its lead hazard control program. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) funding is part of a nationwide effort to reduce lead poisoning through public awareness, blood level testing, and lead hazard elimination in homes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, childhood lead poisoning is one of the most common pediatric health problems in the United States today. Lead poisoning causes permanent and irreversible brain damage, but it is 100% preventable.
In addition to the $3 million for Minneapolis, HUD awarded $1.5 million to the Sustainable Resources Center (SRC), an organization that focuses its efforts on lead issues, energy issues and healthy homes.
With the money from HUD, SRC will conduct a new program in the five-county metro area, focusing specifically in neighborhoods where concentrations of elevated blood level poisoning has been detected. According to Dan Newman, SRC’s Executive Director, at-risk neighborhoods include those with many older homes that have not been well maintained, such as those in Phillips, Powderhorn, and Central, as well as those on the North Side of Minneapolis.
Newman says that the Lead Hazard Control program is being conducted in conjunction with weatherization for “overall healthier homes that are safer and more affordable places to live.” Families that are eligible for energy assistance may also apply for weather assistance and Lead Hazard Control.
Newman says that while limited funds mean that only about half of qualified familes get energy assistance, weatherization and Lead Hazard Control assistance is more readily available, According to Newman, families can reduce heating expenses while protecting their homes through the combined effort of the weatherization and Lead Hazard control programs.
SRC conducts lead blood level testing in children throughout the metro area. The tests take place at about 40 organizations such as Sabathani Community Center and Waite House. When a child has a lead blood level that is of concern, SRC does an in –home education visit with the child’s family. The family may then choose to apply to be a part of SRC’s Lead Hazard program.
Sheila Regan is a theater artist based in Minneapolis. When not performing or writing, she serves as educational coordinator for Teatro del Pueblo.