Lead paint removal program targets older Kalamazoo homes

KALAMAZOO, MI — Residents in some Kalamazoo neighborhoods could soon benefit from a $2 million federal grant aiming to eliminate lead in area homes.

The nonprofit Kalamazoo Neighborhood Housing Services, Inc. has partnered with the city of Kalamazoo for lead-based paint remediation funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Residents are encouraged to apply for the remediation program that aims to serve 72 local homes, especially those with children, in the city’s Northside, Edison, and Eastside Neighborhoods.

To be eligible for the Lead-Based Paint Hazard Control Program, recipients must live in the city of Kalamazoo and occupy a home built before 1978. Pending initial home inspection, residents are required to be current on property taxes, or in a repayment program via county authorization. The homes will be remediated at no cost to the occupants.

“This particular program is not a house remodeling program,” KNHS Neighborhood Services Director Matt Milcarek stated.

“We are not coming through and remodeling your house, we are just making it lead-safe. If your house has a lot of lead on your windows, then it’s going to feel like a remodeled home because of the new windows.”

According to City of Kalamazoo Community and Investment Manager Antonio Mitchell, the city has started a multi-month effort to reach people who may be eligible.

“We are trying to catch up this year with the numbers that we lost going into next year,” Mitchell said. “It has been an issue because residents are concerned with people coming into the house for inspections. So we aren’t really knocking on doors; we are putting the door knockers on the doors.”

By the end of the week, Mitchell plans to cover about 20 blocks. By going through the neighborhoods, the city hopes to engage with residents on a personal level.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the program lost a year of evaluation and data analysis.

“We had a year of developing the program and hiring staff,” Milcarek said. “The city had a minority contractor training effort, so we were able to get ahold of lead licenses to complete the work. We had a ramp-up phase, and now we’re in the full-steam-ahead-running phase.”

Nationwide, about 24 million residential lots have lead-based hazards, and about four million of those residences consist of children five and under, per the CDC’s website. Lead-based paint that peels and cracks, creating dust, can expose children to a dangerous neurotoxin that can impair their development or even be lethal in large quantities. Everyday surfaces can become hazards, such as windows and cabinets.

According to the city of Kalamazoo’s website, detrimental effects of lead include lower educational performance, attention deficiencies and aggressive behavior.

According to Milcarek, land contracts, mobile homes and businesses do not qualify for the remediation program. In the case of residents running a business out of their homes, Milcarek suggests a program through the state of Michigan to cover potential exposure.

“With the numbers we have in Kalamazoo, we can do 50 homes a year, and [still] never fix all of the homes,” Milcarek said. “The majority of the housing stock in Kalamazoo is older than 1978, so we looked at the historic cost of lead abatement projects in Kalamazoo and looked at the dollars available.”

To find out more about the program, contact KNHS Home Ownership Services at (269) 385-2916.

More on MLive:

Four arrested following armed robbery at Grand Haven T-Mobile store

Two pets die in Battle Creek house fire as four occupants safely escape

COVID: Do I need the booster shot if I got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine?

You may also like...