Utica awarded $3.5M for lead removal

UTICA — The city has been awarded $3.5 million in federal funding to help remove lead hazards from homes in Utica.

The funding comes from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and will be used to help remove or address lead hazards in 180 housing units for low- and very-low-income families, according to a news release from Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand.

Utica will receive $2,932,078 from the Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction grant program and $600,000 in Healthy Homes Supplemental funding, according to the release. The city also will use the funding to perform healthy homes assessments.

Both Schumer and Gillibrand wrote letters to HUD earlier this year, advocating on behalf of the city.

The health hazards associated with lead contamination continue to plague Oneida County, where the incidence rate of elevated blood lead levels in children is one of the highest in New York state, especially in the city of Utica, Schumer said in his letter.

“Lead poisoning is an irreversible, preventable tragedy that robs many families and children of their future,” Schumer said in the release. “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 here in Utica.”

HUD’s Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction grant program works to identify and control lead-based paint hazards in eligible housing units, according to the release. The grants are used to help municipalities carry out lead hazard control activities, it said.

The Healthy Homes Supplemental funding is used to identify and remediate housing related health and safety hazards that contribute to disease and injury, the release said.

One of the main sources of exposure to lead hazards is found right in the home, as an abundance of the city’s housing stock was built before lead-based paint was banned in 1978, Gillibrand said in her letter.

“No New Yorker should have to live in a home where they could be poisoned by lead, and that’s why I fought on behalf of Utica so that it could get funding it needs to protect some of our most vulnerable families from this toxic chemical,” Gillibrand said in the release. “This federal funding will support the city’s continued efforts to identify and eliminate lead in homes throughout the Mohawk Valley.”

The Community Foundation of Herkimer and Oneida Counties has been working closely with the city and the Lead-Free Mohawk Valley Coalition to rid homes of lead hazards. Community Foundation President and CEO Alicia Dicks said the organization is grateful for the support and the funding, which comes on the heels of Lead-Safe Utica’s pilot program in West Utica.

Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri said in the release that the city is proud of the city’s work with the Lead-Free MV Coalition.

“Securing over $3 million through the Lead Based Paint Hazard Reduction grant program and Healthy Homes Supplemental funding will provide much needed resources to assist our community in enhancing lead prevention and combating lead poisoning,” he said.



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