Grant targets homes with lead-based paints

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Ronald Kraatz, senior manager of Healthy Homes program for Connecticut Children's Medical Center, listen to questions from community members regarding what will be done with the $1.2 million grant and what qualifications are required to qualify July 21 at the Naugatuck Valley Health District office in Seymour. –REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Ronald Kraatz, senior manager of Healthy Homes program for Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, listen to questions from community members regarding what will be done with the $1.2 million grant and what qualifications are required to qualify July 21 at the Naugatuck Valley Health District office in Seymour. –REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN

SEYMOUR — More than 100 low-income homes with lead-based paints will be renovated this fall with funds from a $2.9 million federal grant.

The Naugatuck Valley Health District received the grant, which is part of $52.6 million in federal grants awarded to 23 local and state government agencies last week.

Carol Slajda, program director of NauVEL (Naugatuck Valley Emends Lead) said about $2.5 million of the grant will go toward lead hazard intervention and about $400,000 will go toward Healthy Homes, an initiative that focuses on bringing attention to housing-related hazards that could cause childhood diseases or injuries in their home.

Slajda said of the available grants for up to 118 homes in the Naugatuck Valley towns of Ansonia, Beacon Falls, Derby, Naugatuck, Seymour and Shelton, priority will be given to low-income family homes. Particularly those with children who test for elevated levels of lead in their blood.

Homes that were built before 1978 are those specifically being targeting, since this is when painting houses with lead-based paint was most popular in Connecticut.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., visited the Naugatuck Valley Health District July 21 to discuss the grant and the project.

“Lead removal not only enhances health, but also raises real estate value,” Blumenthal said. “This grant has far reaching gratifications for the health and economic prosperations of the Valley.”

Blumenthal stressed the importance of this grant due to the health endangerments caused by living in homes with lead-based paint, particularly the effects it has on children’s health over time. This includes causing irreversible harm to neurological development, learning abilities and basic health.

“We were very fortunate that the issue of lead has been recognized here in Connecticut and that something will be done about it,” Blumenthal said.

Slajda said she expects the initiative will begin accepting grant applications and renovating homes by early fall of this year.

“We’re going to make the houses safe. Lead paint causes disastrous physical, mental and behavioral lifelong effects,” Slajda said. “These are low-income families that are disadvantaged to begin with; if we can remove the obstacle of a safe and healthy home that starts them off further along.”