In the News

Reading Awarded $3.3 Million Lead-Based Paint Removal Grant

Originally Posted in the Reading Eagle. 

Reading will remove hazardous lead paint in 150 homes, thanks to a $3.3 million federal grant.

In a joint press release, Mayor Eddie Moran and Congresswoman Chrissy Houlahan announced Thursday that the city is one of 28 government entities to receive a grant to remove lead-based paint. The grants were awarded as part of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Lead Based Paint Hazard Reduction grant program that aims to maximize the number of children under the age of 6 protected from lead poisoning.

“I am committed in my support for safe and affordable housing for all,” Houlahan said.

The Chester County Democrat said that since her first day on the job in 2018, her office has proudly written letters of support for people and groups pursuing federal grant funds. She said she is thrilled that Reading has been awarded this money to improve housing for our neighbors — particularly those that are the most vulnerable among us.

In total, HUD’s program is projected to assist in the removal of lead paint from 3,700 homes in the country.

Locally, Moran said the grant will be used to mitigate lead hazards in 150 units throughout Reading. The funds will specifically be used to complete electrical work, plumbing, painting preparation, carpentry and window replacement in hopes of permanently eliminating lead paint hazards from the affected units.

“With more than 65% of the city’s homes having been built before 1948, lead abatement and renovation are critically important to the health of our community,” Moran said. “These targeted investments will make homes safer and more livable, especially for our children, the next generation of residents.”

Reading has more children with elevated blood-lead levels than anywhere else in Berks County and some of the highest in the state, according to a study by a retired Kutztown University professor who specializes in medical geography.

The highest percentage of children with elevated blood-lead levels are reported in census tracts in downtown Reading along Penn Street between Eighth and 11th streets and north of Perkiomen Avenue, according to maps developed by Dr. Robert Ziegenfus using unpublished data from the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

From 2015 to 2017, 8.6% of all tests of children from birth to 5 years old in Berks had confirmed elevated blood-lead levels, 1,230 of 14,246 tests.

That far exceeds the national rate for a similar period, 2013-2017, of 1%. Since 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has designated the level of concern for children at 5 micrograms per deciliter. Pennsylvania adopted that standard in 2014.