Removing lead paint from old homes is expensive, and Senator Chuck Schumer is pushing for the federal government to provide more financial aid for homeowners who take on the task.
Schumer and Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse will introduce a bill this week that would provide a $3,000 tax credit for homeowners who remove hazards including lead pipes, lead paint, and windows or fixtures contaminated by lead paint. The legislation would also provide a $1,000 credit for specialized cleaning or replacement work. The credits would be available to owner-occupants as well as landlords.
Schumer is also pushing federal officials to increase funding for the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes programs. Monroe County and the City of Rochester receive funding through the programs, which are targeted at fixing up lead hazards in low-income housing. President Barack Obama’s current budget proposal provides $110 million for the programs, but Schumer wants the amount boosted to $230 million.
Monroe County is currently using the lead hazard program funding to fix up 270 housing units and the City of Rochester is using its funding to tackle an additional 235 units, according to Schumer’s office. The projects are covered under a three-year commitment from the federal government.
The number of Monroe County children with elevated blood-lead levels has decreased over the past decade. That’s due in large part to city and county efforts to inspect and remediate rental properties in key zip codes, where many of the houses were built before lead paint was banned and where many of the renters are low-income.
More than 14,500 local children were screened for lead in 2014, and 609 of them were found to have elevated levels, according to the Monroe County Health Department. By comparison, 900 children were found to have elevated levels in 2004, when 13,746 kids were tested and the county used a weaker threshold to identify children exposed to lead.