Lynn plans to make 400 homes for low-income families safe from lead paint over the next five years as a result of $9.3 million in new federal funding.
The assistance from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development will enable Lynn to continue a decade-old program run by the city’s housing authority that has removed lead from 600 homes.
Lynn, which has a population of about 95,000, earned the highest funding allotment of four cities sharing in $19.5 million awarded by HUD in Massachusetts, part of $314 million disbursed nationwide to reduce lead and other household hazards. Worcester will get $5.6 million, Boston, $4.3 million, and Quincy, $300,000.
“We’re really excited,” said Jeff Weeden, the housing authority’s manager of planning and development, noting that Lynn joined such larger cities as Baltimore and Detroit in receiving top-tier awards, and that the funding is the largest of a series of awards the city has received since starting its program in 2010.
Lynn’s selection for the sizeable award was based on “the specific levels of need in its community . . . and [the city’s] proven success in administering a grant of that size,” said Martin Nee, lead compliance officer for HUD’s New England office.
Relatively old housing stock makes Lynn particularly prone to lead paint hazards, Weeden said. According to 2014 state data, about 88 percent of the city’s housing stock was built before 1978, when lead paint was first banned under federal law.
Even low levels of lead can impact the IQ, nervous system, and kidneys of children, causing significant learning and behavioral problems.
Lynn will use $8.7 million awarded under HUD’s Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction program and $1.05 million in city funds to remove lead from the 400 homes. It is receiving another $600,000 under HUD’s Healthy Homes program to correct other deficiencies in about 350 of those homes.
“Every day we work to provide safe and affordable housing for our community and this funding from HUD goes a long way towards that effort,” Mayor Thomas M. McGee said in a statement.
Through Lynn’s Lead Paint Abatement Program, the city pays the full cost — typically about $12,000 — of removing lead hazards from a housing unit owned by or rented to a low-income family with a child under 6. State law forbids renting an apartment with lead to a household with a child in that age category.
The process includes an initial home inspection to verify the presence of lead; a subsequent home visit by an authority specialist to develop a work plan; relocation of the family if needed during construction; the deleading work; and a later inspection.
The lead removal can take various forms, from scraping and repainting walls, doors, and windowsills, to repairing windows. Contractors also will take steps to rectify other hazards, such as mold, asbestos, or broken stairs.
The program until now has been available citywide, but because the new grant targets low-income areas in central Lynn, only housing there will be eligible. But Weeden said the authority plans to prioritize homes elsewhere in the city and seek other available funds to delead them.
Some of the grant money also will go toward educating the public about the lead problem and the city program, and training city employees and others to detect and remove lead.
“We want people to know about it,” Weeden said. “That’s half the battle.”
John Laidler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.