Lead Hazard a Persistent Problem in NJ
Senate Committee Hosts Hearing on Lead Hazard Control Assistance Fund


Today, the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee hosted a hearing on the Lead Hazard Control Assistance Fund (LHCAF) and other issues related to lead hazards in New Jersey. Citing health concerns in older communities, the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey (the Network) urged members of the committee to support the fund through an annual budget appropriation.

"The scourge of lead poisoning is still very much among us- at least those of us that live and work in older cities," said Martin Johnson, president and CEO of Isles, Inc. "In fact, in places like our hometown of Trenton, over 40 percent of the students in the public schools have enough lead in their bodies to impact their IQ. Although lead was removed from new paint in the 1970's, those in older cities continue to be poisoned by dust from lead paint that was applied 75 to 100 years ago."

The LHCAF is a source of funds created to help eliminate lead-based paint hazards in housing to the greatest extent possible. The Fund provides resources to property owners who have lead-based paint hazards in their houses. Eligible housing includes: pre-1978 single-family, two-family, and multiple-family dwellings, condos, cooperatives, single room occupancy dwellings, rooming homes, boarding homes and emergency shelters.

There has been no appropriation in the state budget for the LHCAF program in recent years. In addition, language in the last two state budgets redirected sources of  revenue from the LHCAF to housing code enforcement. The lack of a line item appropriation and the redirection of revenue leaves the Fund with no new funding in FY 2014 for loans and grants for the remediation and removal of lead-based paint hazards in residences, public education efforts, and the lead safe housing unit registry.

"It is shameful that the governor has not allocated money to create safe, lead free homes for children who are victims of lead poisoning," said Arnold Cohen, senior policy coordinator for the Network. "State efforts to remediate lead from homes and educate the public about lead hazards have also gone unfunded. The governor should make healthy homes for all NJ's children a priority."

"The National Center for Disease Control and many others confirm the persistence of lead poisoning in older neighborhoods," added Johnson. "In fact, we have tested 10 percent of the housing units in Trenton, and found that the majority of them should not be lived in by kids -  because of the lead levels in the dust of the homes.”

Prior to recent cuts, New Jersey had been a leader in the fight against lead poisoning, dedicating millions of dollars annually for children, databases and maps tracking the poison, and financial aid for parents seeking to purify their homes of toxic metal. Lead hazards have not been eradicated however, and experts say even microscopic quantities of lead — found in paint chips, in dust or in the air — can inflict permanent brain damage to young children.

The Housing and Community Development Network supports New Jersey’s community development sector, collaborating with more than 250 members including community development corporations and other organizations to create affordable homes, expand economic opportunities, and build strong communities. For more information on the Network, visit www.hcdnnj.org.

For more information: Nina Arce
Housing & Community Development Network of NJ
(609) 393-3752 x12
[email protected]
Twitter site:  twitter.com/hcdnnj
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