In an effort to promote affordable housing that is also safe, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan announced last year that he was creating two new grant programs. The grants were awarded through HUD’s Office of Healthy Home and Lead Hazard Control. Near the end of 2010, after the program has been up and running for few months, Secretary Donovan announced that it has been a great success.
Close to $100 million was allocated to two programs aimed at removing health and safety hazards that put children at risk. LEAP – the Operation Lead Elimination Action Program – was created to address lead paint hazards. A maximum of $2 million is available to each grantee, which must not be government entities. Only non-profit or for-profit private sector business and organizations are eligible. When funding requests are being evaluated, points are awarded to those requests that have matching funds available – potentially turning a $2 million grant into $4 million.
The other program deemed a success by Secretary Donovan is the Healthy Homes Demonstration Grant Program. This program was created to address health and safety hazards other than lead paint. Issues such as mold, allergens, carbon monoxide and safety risks like obstructed pathways are just some of the problems corrected with money from this program. Award recipients are required to submit a Quality Assurance Plan, and a full assessment of the housing units for which the grant will be used. No less than 65 percent of money awarded must be spend on correcting health and safety hazards. The remaining 35 percent can be spent on education and awareness efforts.
Fifty-three programs in 20 states received funding to help make existing affordable housing safer by removing lead-based paint, and addressing other issues that could either cause injury or trigger breathing problems such as asthma. It’s a significant step towards ensuring that all low-income housing is not just affordable but is also safe.
Over $80 million in grants was allocated for the removal of lead-based paint in both rental and privately-owned homes during this last round of funding. An additional $2.6 million was used to conduct inspections, clean-up, and provide temporary housing for some of the nation’s lowest-income residents.
Secretary Donovan estimates that about 3,800 children have been protected from health risks by the program grants, exceeding his goal of 3,500. The grants have given affordable housing developers another potential source of funding, especially if they are converting existing structures. Additional information about HUD’s Office of Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control, including grant opportunities, are available on HUD’s web site.