Federal program grants millions to lead remediation in Pa. suburbs

Jim Melwert
October 10, 2019 - 1:31 pm

BRISTOL, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — The federal government has granted more than $20 million to Pennsylvania to help fund lead remediation, and a decent-sized chunk of that money is going to the Philadelphia region.

The Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction grant program from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development targets low-income housing. 

Bucks County was passed over for the grant last year, but this year, $4 million will benefit the Philadelphia suburbs — $1.5 million, specifically, will go to Bucks. 

U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick said the risk of lead exposure starts to climb in homes that were built before 1978, and there’s a significant increase in homes built before 1940.

"Bucks County is a very historic place. We have over 110,000 homes built before 1978; we have over 30,000 homes that were built before 1940," he noted.

For years, the county has had programs to help homeowners rehab properties in areas that need an economic boost, but Bucks County Commissioner Rob Loughery said this grant will help mediate properties.

"This will actually help even more enhance our owner-occupied rehabilitation program because you could eat up $10,000 to $15,000 like that with lead-based paint abatement," said Loughery. "You use up a lot of the money abating the lead paint, which keeps us from getting to some of the other needs, whether it's roof or heating or plumbing or something like that."

Margie McKevitt, Bucks County director of community and economic development, said the grant will supplement that program.

"This grant can be put toward rental properties too, which is something we weren’t able to do before," she added.

Montgomery and Delaware counties are also recipients of the grant. 

Bucks County is still working out exactly how the money will be doled out, but over the course of the four-year grant, they expect to help 50 to 100 families.