Aligning American Recovery Plan Dollars
For over 100 years, low-income communities have been devastated by the toxic legacy of homes ladened with old lead-based paint that has undermined their health, education, and economic opportunities. According to HUD’s 2019 American Healthy Housing Survey there are 14 million homes with families making less than $35,000 per year with active lead-based paint hazards requiring remediation. The overwhelming majority of these homes are occupied by Black and Brown families, thus deepening health and racial disparities. Using HUD’s estimated average cost of clean-up of $12,000 per home – $168 billion is needed to address this lynchpin issue to create healthier, more stable, and affordable housing.
Chipping, peeling, flaking lead-based paint, which breaks down into a dangerous and often invisible dust that covers the interiors and exteriors of homes and the soil around a home’s drip line, impairs brain and organ development as well as kidney and heart functions. The impact of lead poisoning on children, pregnant women and families is devastating and irreversible – yet entirely preventable.
The Need for Transformational Investment
At this time in our nation’s history, investing in ridding our communities of lead will have immediate, transformational, and tangible results to improve health, economic and educational opportunities and have resounding results in advancing racial and health equity.
We know that investing one dollar in lead returns up to $221 to communities. More importantly, it will better ensure that all children will get to the classroom healthy and ready to learn, earn and compete for a lifetime. It will lower crime, improve housing stability, promote better educational outcomes, and ensure intergenerational wealth building and transfer.
Investing only in lead service line replacement, while important, will leave millions of children over the next decade exposed to the main pathway to poisoning. This must be clearly understood. By aligning investments in lead service line replacement, soil remediation and housing, we will have an achievable path to deliver on the promise of ending lead poisoning so that every child will have a healthier and more equitable path to reach their fullest potential.
Mayors, County Executives and Governors should direct a portion of their allocated American Recovery Plan funds towards preventive lead and healthy homes services which are an allowable use of funds, and which directly impact health, equity, housing and job creation.
The US Treasury Department has released guidance on the American Recovery Plan including eligible uses that support lead hazard remediation and healthy housing. Click on the link below and see pages 22-23 of the guidance on eligible uses of the ARP funds for:
- Remediation of lead paint or other lead hazards to reduce the risk of elevated blood lead levels among children
- Housing services to support healthy living environments and neighborhoods conducive to mental and physical wellness