Somerville Launches Revised Lead Paint Safety Program

“Lead Paint Safe Somerville” to provide no-interest loans to qualifying property owners, tenants for lead-based paint remediation. Community information session to be held June 14 at 6:30 p.m. at East Branch Library.

SOMERVILLE – Mitigating lead paint hazards in Somerville’s housing supply is one of the priorities on Mayor Curtatone’s affordable housing agenda. This month, the Office of Strategic Planning and Community Development Housing Division kicks off a new program – Lead Paint Safe Somerville – designed to help address those hazards.

The program’s goal is to help create safer housing for Somerville families by remediating lead-based paint hazards in residential units. Lead Paint Safe Somerville is a limited-time program that provides no-interest forgivable loans for Somerville residents to address existing lead hazards. The program’s goal is to abate these hazards in 90 Somerville housing units by 2021. The Housing Division has secured a $1.7 million federal grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for the program.   

“An important component of combatting the housing crisis facing Somerville and the region is increasing the supply of safe family housing units that are in compliance with lead paint removal standards,” said Mayor Curtatone. “Thanks to a grant from HUD, the Lead Paint Safe Somerville program will allow us to reach more tenants and property owners and help them mitigate lead-based paint hazards that could be impacting the health of our children.”

The new Lead Paint Safe Somerville program is a revised version of the City’s previous lead paint program. It has been modified to improve the experience for residents, property owners, and contractors. One of the most notable changes is the creation of an online application to increase accessibility and make it easier to submit information.

Eligibility for access to program assistance is based on an income-qualifying application process. The occupant of the unit, whether a tenant or a property owner, may qualify for the program. All information provided by applicants will be treated confidentially. Program staff will work with owners and tenants to complete the application process and gather the necessary documents. Translation services in Spanish, Portuguese, Haitian Creole, and Mandarin are available through the Housing Division and SomerViva. 

By participating in the program, property owners may be eligible to receive a tax credit of up to $1,500 for each unit made compliant, as well as a Letter of Full De-leading Compliance from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. 

Residents and property owners are invited to the Lead Paint Safe Somerville Information Session Thursday, June 14, at the East Branch of the Somerville Public Library (115 Broadway). Refreshments will be provided. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the presentation will begin at 7 p.m.

Like many cities and towns with an aging housing stock, lead poisoning remains a critical threat to the health of young children throughout Somerville.  Nearly 90 percent of the homes in the city were built before lead-based paint was banned 40 years ago. You can check online to see if your home or apartment has a Letter of Compliance on file by visiting the State’s Lead Safe Home Search site. Currently, about 2,000 Somerville homes have received a Letter of Compliance.

Once lead gets into the body, it can cause severe and lifelong health impacts.  Low-level lead exposure can cause developmental disabilities, which have been shown to impact IQ levels and crime rates. While these severe health risks are the most important issue, lead poisoning can also have economic consequences for both individuals and the community.  Peter Muennig, Associate Professor of Public Health at Columbia University, estimates the lifetime economic losses for each exposed child at $50,000.

For more information about Lead Paint Safe Somerville, visit www.somervillema.gov/lead. You may also contact Andres Bueno, Program Specialist, at 617-625-6600 ext. 2584 or [email protected].

 


Individuals with disabilities who need auxiliary aids and services for effective communication, written materials in alternative formats, or reasonable modifications in policies and procedures, in order to access the programs and activities of the City of Somerville or to attend meetings, should contact the City’s ADA Coordinator, Nency Salamoun, at 617-625-6600 x2323 or [email protected].