CINCINNATI — The city of Cincinnati is receiving millions of dollars in federal funding to address lead paint in local homes, as part of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's "Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Program."
In total, the city will be awarded $3.1 million and will receive an additional $400,000 in funding from the "Healthy Homes" program.
According to the Cincinnati Health Department, every neighborhood in the city is at risk for lead poisoning because of the age of the homes in the region. Lead poisoning can cause severe issues for children, including developmental problems, behavioral problems and a low IQ. The new funding is aimed at preventing those issues from continuing.
In May, teenager Shannya Cross and her mother shared her story of growing up alongside lead-based paint in childhood homes in Cincinnati.
Cross is now 16. As a child, her blood lead levels tested above what’s considered acceptable by CDC guidelines, which now sets five micrograms per deciliter as the value to identify children with high lead levels in their blood. However, no levels are considered safe.
According to the Health Department, lead poisoning is asymptomatic but has life-long effects.
In 2019, the Cincinnati Health Department identified 321 local children with elevated levels of lead in their blood. However, a majority of children are not tested, even though under Ohio law, children should be tested at ages 1 and 2 or up to age 6 if no previous testing has been done. The testing is required to help prevent irreversible damage.
"The very said, tragic story is, kids get it by forging for food when they're hungry in their home," said Mayor John Cranley. "And if they don't have enough to eat, they might pick up a paint chip that fell off a window and eat it."
Tuesday, HUD announced Cincinnati would receive the $3.5 million in grants to address lead hazards in roughly 200 homes throughout the city. Hamilton County is also receiving $2 million to address the issue.
"The additional money from HUD will support the health department's childhood lead poisoning prevention program initiative to control lead paint, dust and soil hazards in residential properties," said Melba Moore, Cincinnati Health Commissioner.
Those dealing with lead paint in their homes can reach out to the Cincinnati Health Department to see if they're eligible for help through this program.