U.S. Denies Funding for Burlington, Vt. Lead Abatement Program

September 29, 2006

A city lead abatement program that has been recognized nationally might have to shut down because the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has denied a request for a $3 million grant.

“We were very surprised. All the indications were that we were doing well,” said Michael Monte, director of the city’s Community and Economic Development Office. “The money we have continues until next March. We’ll run out of money within the next fiscal year.”

HUD gave the city a lead-abatement grant of $1.5 million in 2003. The city has also received two grants totaling $80,000 from the Environmental Protection Agency.

The city’s lead program won a “best practices” lead eradication award in 2005 from the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

To date, the program has made 70 homes in the city lead free, while dozens more are enrolled now.

Lead-based paint has not been manufactured since 1978, but it is found in older homes. Burlington, meanwhile, has the oldest housing stock in the state and Vermont has the second-oldest in the country.

In Burlington, the lead poisoning rate for children younger than 6 who have been tested is 4.3 percent, more than double the national average of 2 percent.

Monte said he didn’t think the city would be able to keep paying the four people who work on the program without the grant. His office will now look to the state’s congressional delegation to find grant money to keep the program alive.

Topics USA Mergers Pollution

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