“I just want to thank God for my house and all of you all who helped me get it.”
Houston resident Carolyn Dawson says she feels like she’s won the lotto. She didn’t win a new house or anything like that, but the city did repaint her old one, and it also fixed a couple areas that might have left her family exposed to lead.
Dawson is one of many Houston area homeowners that will have their homes treated for lead paint, thanks to two grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development totaling more than five million dollars.
Jon Gant works in HUD’S Lead treatment program.
“Our Secretary Donovan supports this program. He feels that housing is the ideal platform to improve health. That if you can reduce the number of environmental hazards that are in a house, you’re going to be able to save a lot of money on the back end in terms of medical costs, and especially those that might be exposed to lead.”
The problem is seen in homes built before 1978. As the paints begins to deteriorate, it creates poisonous dust that can be breathed in, or paint chips that babies or children put in their mouths.
“If you go back fifteen years ago there were over a million kids a year that were poisoned each year. Now we’re down to about 100,000 a year. Still way too many, but a significant reduction in that fifteen years.”
Brenda Reyes is with the City of Houston’s Health and Human Services Department. She say more than 200 children in Houston tested positive for lead paint in their blood. She says any amount of lead can be dangerous and can cause behavioral problems such as violence, hyperactivity and speech problems. It can even lead to nerve damage or a coma.
“Studies now are showing that low lead levels, constant lead levels will give you the neurological damage. That before we thought you only see it in very high blood levels.”
Lead-reduction activities include removal and replacement of contaminated housing components such as doors, windows and woodwork, stabilizing or enclosing painted surfaces and temporarily relocating families during the renovation process, to ensure that children are not further exposed to lead.
Anyone of low income and a home built before 1978 can apply, just call 3-1-1 in order to be connected with the City of Houston’s Health and Human Services Department.