Memphis receives federal grant to reduce lead paint hazards in homes

WATCH: Memphis receives federal grant to reduce lead paint hazards in homes

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Millions of federal dollars are coming to Memphis to help hundreds of families get a decades old toxin out of their homes.

The city of Memphis got $5.6 million to reduce lead paint hazards found in older homes occupied by low income families with children under the age of six.

City leaders at City Hall said this means renovations for 350 homes that were built before 1978.

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All while Shelby County School students are still getting tested for possible lead exposure.

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Paul Young, the Director of Housing and Community Development for the city of Memphis, said Monday's announcement was perfect timing.

"Over 55 percent of the housing units were built before 1978, so that means that the propensity for lead in those homes is much higher than those built after that date," said Young.

Sernorma Mitchell, the director of the HUD Memphis Field Office, said giving the city this money was important to the Department of Housing and Urban Development because of the children impacted.

"Our children are special, the children of Memphis are special, and we must all do our part to protect them from lead hazards in the place they call home," said Mitchell. 
Some communities impacted are South Memphis, North Memphis, Midtown And Orange Mound.

The 42-month program will focus on enrolling and completing risk assessment and conditions inspections on the older homes.

The funding also means training resources and job opportunities for more than 80 low income people.

HUD representatives said this is the largest grant awarded in the Southeast.

A number of the schools that tested positive for lead are in the same communities where the HUD grant will impact homes.

Shelby County Health Director, Alisa Haushalter, told FOX13 finding a solution will be a community effort.

"We have to continue to work together.  Continue to invest resources in several areas.  Not just home remediation but it's really important that children get their annual physicals with the healthcare provider," said Haushalter.

City leaders said this is something that has been in the works for a while and was not the result of the findings in Shelby County Schools.

For more information about the program, please call 901-636-LEAD or visit http://leadsafememphis.org/