The city of Schenectady will be getting $3 million to address lead exposure problems in more than 200 housing units, U.S. Sens. Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand announced Monday.
The grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Lead Hazard Reduction Demonstration program is enough money to remove lead hazards in 218 households, "providing safer homes for low and very low-income families with children," the senators from New York said.
"We must do everything we can to eliminate lead from our homes and this major federal grant will do just that by injecting much-needed funds into lead remediation and prevention," Schumer said.
Mayor Gary McCarthy called the funding "great news for the city of Schenectady and our ongoing efforts to keep our children and families safe from lead contamination."
Under the grant, the city will partner with Schenectady County to address the lead hazards. The funding is intended for use in privately owned housing whose rental tenants or owner-occupants are low-income. The county plays a role because the county Public Health Department oversees public health issues within the city, and the Public Health Department will also administer the grant.
Poisoning from lead, which is contained in the paints used inside many older houses, can cause severe mental and physical health problems, from development problems to pain. "It is imporant to remove those hazards from our homes so we can make our families safe," Gillibrand said. "The city of Schenectady will now have access to additional resources to help protect residents and prevent exposure to this dangerous substance."
According to the National Institutes of Health, lead is more harmful to children than adults because it can affect their developing brains and nervous systems. The grant specifically is aimed at addressing problems in houses where children live.
The city received a similar $3.1 million grant in 2014 to remove lead from about about 225 housing units. Lead paint was banned in 1978, but officials have noted that 90 percent of Schenectady's housing stock was built before that, with the potential to contain lead paint.