Trying to get the lead outPublished 12:01am Monday, February 18, 2013
NATCHEZ — Natchez, along with three other Mississippi cities, is applying for a grant that could make some local homes safer for young children.
The Natchez Board of Aldermen approved an application for grant funding through the Lead-based Paint Hazard Control funding program last week at the request of Community Development Director James Johnston.
Johnston said the Mississippi Department of Health contacted him about Natchez joining with Hattiesburg, Greenwood and Greenville to apply for the funding, which is provided through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Johnston said approximately $400,000 in funding could be awarded to the area for lead-based paint abatement in 67 houses built before 1978. The houses must be the homes of children 6 and under or houses that children 6 routinely visit.
Eligible residents must also meet income requirements, and 75 percent of the houses must be occupied by renters and 25 percent owner occupied, Johnston said.
The grant requires a 15-percent cost match, which Johnston said will be met by in-kind work by the city’s planning and inspections departments.
If the grant is awarded, Johnston said the city will conduct lead and environmental assessments using guidelines from HUD’s Office of Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control.
The city will also provide lead-based paint and healthy homes community education.
“Because we have a large inventory of pre-1978 homes and a high concentration of youth that are exposed to lead poisoning, lead-based paint poisoning is a problem here,” Johnston said.
The grant funding could not only help identify those houses with lead paint, Johnston said, but it will also help get rid of the poisonous paint.
“That’s going to further reduce the amount of children who are going to the health department or hospital showing signs of lead-based paint poisoning,” he said.