R.I. Housing gets $8.4M to address lead problems

PROVIDENCE – The R.I. Housing and Mortgage Finance Corp. will receive $8.4 million in federal funds toward lead cleanup efforts in the state, Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., announced Tuesday.

RIHousing will receive $7.8 million from the High Impact Neighborhoods Demonstration, a grant program designed by Reed in 2018, according to Reed’s office. RIHousing was one of seven grantees of the program.

The program, designed to eliminate lead paint from homes, targets neighborhoods with pre-1940s homes, low-income families and high rates of children with elevated blood lead levels. The program is expected to impact areas in Central Falls, Pawtucket and other communities with older homes. The program works by reducing the per-unit cost of lead-based paint remediation through economies of scale and lowering grantees’ administrative expenses.

“I created this grant program because every child deserves a safe and healthy home,” stated Reed. “Lead poisoning is a preventable tragedy and these federal funds will help residents safely remove lead-based paint and other hazards that may be present in their home. I am pleased RIHousing was chosen as one of the first major recipients of the High Impact Neighborhoods Demonstration, and I hope they can lead the way in eliminating lead-based paint hazards, protecting at-risk children and families, and saving taxpayers.”

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RIHousing will also receive $599,800 from the Healthy Homes Initiative to eliminate lead paint and other housing-related health hazards. The funds may also be used to target radon exposure, mold, electrical hazards and carbon monoxide problems in areas of greatest need.

Both programs are overseen by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

“At RIHousing, we strive to improve the lives of Rhode Islanders by helping them buy, rent and keep a healthy home,” stated Carol Ventura, executive director of RIHousing. “Together, thanks to Senator Reed’s leadership, we will be able to significantly lessen the number of families in Central Falls and Pawtucket affected by dangerous lead in the home.”