The City of Lancaster announced today that the City has been awarded a $9.1 million Lead Hazard Reduction Grant through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, plus an additional $600,000 of Healthy Homes supplemental funding. The Lead Hazard Reduction Grant will systematically make 710 housing units lead safe in Lancaster city. The Healthy Homes supplemental funding will enable the City to address other health hazards such as radon, mold and tripping hazards in 120 homes. Matching funds from the City and property owners brings the total funding to $11.1 million.
“Lead is a toxin that is poisoning our children and affecting their ability to learn and succeed. It is beyond time to eliminate lead from our homes, our neighborhoods, and our City. We are especially grateful to receive this level of funding from HUD to support our efforts over the next five years as part of our goal to eliminate lead from the City of Lancaster,” said Mayor Danene Sorace.
The funding will enable the City to scale up its existing Lead Hazard Control Program by hiring additional staff, including outreach workers.
Much of the funding will go directly to construction costs to mitigate lead. The City has active partnerships with contractors and construction firms certified to do this work. The City is seeking additional contractors to complete the work and will be partnering with local job training programs to increase the pool of lead-certified contractors who are eligible to bid on the jobs.
The focus area for the grant is four census tracts (9, 10, 14, and 147) south of King Street where 16,000 residents live. The majority of houses in the area were built prior to 1940, many of which have lead-based paint present. These census tracts are among the highest for children with elevated blood lead levels in the city. Data from the PA Department of Health indicates that between 2015-2018, 18.3% of children under the age of six who resided within those four census tracts and were tested for lead had elevated blood lead levels (over 5 μg/dL).
Lead poisoning disproportionately affects Lancaster city’s most vulnerable populations. Over 60% of families in the target area have low incomes and 82.6% of the population are persons of color.
Lead poisoning affects the central nervous system and brain, especially in fetuses and young children, and hinders their development and ability to learn and regulate behavior. In addition to individual health effects, long term societal effects of lead poisoning include increased crime rates, diminished academic achievement and educational attainment, and reinforcement of the cycle of poverty.
The City will work closely with community partners to promote the program, including Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health, Lancaster Health Center, Partnership for Public Health, the Public Health program at Franklin & Marshall College, School District of Lancaster, and active neighborhood organizations within the target area.