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City receives grant money for lead abatement in Sterling

Award in form of forgivable loan

Published: Thursday, July 31, 2014 1:15 a.m. CST

STERLING – The city has received a grant to help qualifying residents eradicate lead-based paint hazards in their homes.

Sterling has been awarded $78,800 through the Lead Hazard Control Grant program, funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The city will match between $3,600 and $3,900, which will be used to pay city workers who deal with the paperwork the grant generates.

The grant is administered through the Illinois Quad Cities Healthy Homes Coalition. The awards are given in the form of a loan that will be forgiven, if the owner keeps the home for 3 years after the work is completed.

The money is available for owner-occupied, rental or vacant properties. Occupants must have a household income that is no more than 80 percent of the area median income. In Whiteside County, the AMI is $57,900. At 80 percent of the AMI, a family of four would be making $46,650.

Another requirement is that the home must have been built prior to 1978, the year that lead-based paint was banned from home use. Also, at least one child younger than 6 must live there or be present in the home for at least 200 hours a year.

Because the paint was banned so long ago, people tend to forget that lead poisoning is still the most prevalent environmental illness contracted by children. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, each year approximately 25,000 children statewide are identified with elevated lead levels in their blood. Many more children are suffering from the effects of lead, but it is going undetected.

“Many people have lead-based paint in their homes, and don’t know it,” said Amanda Schmidt, city building and zoning superintendent. “If it was built before 1978, there’s a good chance you have it, to some degree.”

Many older buildings still have lead paint on walls, woodwork, siding, doors, windows and porches. While the top paint layer might not contain lead, the dangerous variety oftentimes is still in the layers that were just painted over.

The more the paint chips, the more dangerous it becomes. A child can get lead poisoning by swallowing or breathing in lead dust.

A testing process is required for children in the homes receiving grant money.

“Kids 6 and under take the brunt of lead-based paint problems, and are often referred by the health departments,” Schmidt said. “Before-and-after tests for lead poisoning must be done as a grant requirement.”

Schmidt said a minimum of seven homes can be worked on with the city’s share from HUD.

“This is the first time we’ve gotten this grant, but we’re looking at up to $11,200 per unit,” she said. “We could do more homes, if some don’t need the maximum amount for their work.”

The grant is of the use-it-or-lose-it variety; the deadline is July 2016.

Applications are available at the front desk in City Hall, 212 Third Ave. For more information, call Schmidt at 815-632-6624.

Signs and symptoms in children

– Developmental delay

– Learning difficulties

– Irritability

– Loss of appetite

– Weight loss

– Sluggishness and fatigue

– Abdominal pain

– Vomiting

– Constipation

– Hearing loss

Source: The Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota

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