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Schumer, Gillibrand, Higgins Announce $3.3 Million for Niagara to Remove Lead Paint Hazards from Aging Homes Across the County

Lawmakers Say Investment Will Protect the Health and Well-Being of WNY Children from Toxic Lead-Poisoning

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, and U.S. Congressman Brian Higgins today announced $3,300,000 in federal funding for Niagara County from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Program. The Representatives explained that the funding will help property owners with the burden of abating lead hazards in housing units built before 1940, with Niagara seeing particularly disproportionate deterioration in its least-served communities where the majority of residents are minorities.

“No amount of toxic lead exposure is safe for the children of Western New York, and today I am proud to announce we have secured $3.3 million for Niagara County to remove lead paint from homes to protect our children and public health,” said Senator Schumer. “Lead poisoning is an irreversible, preventable tragedy that robs many families and children of their future. This major federal funding is the shot in the arm that Niagara County needs to boost lead paint removal and prevention and protect the health and safety of families across WNY.”

“Too many children in Western New York are exposed to lead paint, which jeopardizes their health, development and futures,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Residents of Niagara County deserve to live in a home that is free of hazardous lead paint. That’s why I’m proud to announce this funding, which will help protect the health of countless children and families. I will continue to fight so our communities have the resources they need to keep our children healthy and safe.”

“Lead paint poisoning is an avoidable condition with lasting consequences and older communities like Western New York are disproportionately impacted,” said Congressman Higgins.  “ Addressing lead paint exposure repairs an environmental injustice that contributes to economic and health disparities in our community. This is a federal investment in Niagara County’s children and their future.”

“The Niagara County Department of Health has several programs in place to address lead poisoning and the significant threat it poses to residents, particularly children," said Daniel J. Stapleton, Director of the Niagara County Department of Health. "This federal grant is imperative to funding these efforts and we very much appreciate the efforts of Senator Schumer in helping us secure it."

Schumer, Gillibrand and Higgins said this $3.3 million Lead Based Paint Hazard Control Grant will help property owners in Niagara County with the burden of abating lead hazards in aging housing stock with disproportionate deterioration. Specifically, the funding will target areas within the county that have 64.2 percent of the housing units built before 1940 and 10.04 percent of the population under 6 years of age. The Representatives said that 93.75 percent of these census tracts are in newly designated disadvantaged communities. This critical federal funding will also help the Niagara County Department of Health (NCDOH) train a large number of contractors and workers to supply the target areas with trained workers to address these lead hazards.

This funding builds on years of efforts by the senators to help address toxic lead exposure in Western NY. In 2018, Schumer and Gillibrand helped secure $2 million in federal funding through the Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Program to supercharge ongoing efforts. These crucial federal funds helped remove or address lead hazards in 100 housing units in Niagara County, providing safer homes for low and very low-income families with children. In 2019, the senators delivered over $8 million, including $5.6 million for Erie County and $2.75 million for Niagara County, also through the Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Program.

In addition to fighting lead exposure in paint, Schumer has also lead the charge to increase federal funding to eliminate lead service pipes for drinking water in New York. The senator secured one of the largest federal investments ever into eliminating lead service pipes in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Law, which includes a $15 billion carve out within the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) over 5 years ($3 billion every year) for lead service pipe replacement. 49 percent of the funding will be administered as grants and completely forgivable loans to target aid towards disadvantaged communities who disproportionately experience the impact of lead pipes. The historic law also reauthorizes the EPA’s lead reduction projects grant program and increases the program’s authorization to $100 million annually through fiscal year 2026. It also amends the grant program to clarify that the program is intended for the replacement of any lead service line, and that eligible entities shall give priority for lead pipe service line replacement to disadvantaged communities.

Schumer has long been a driving force in securing federal funding to reduce lead exposure in New York. In 2016, after reports of elevated lead levels in Ithaca and schools across the state were published, Schumer took action to help jumpstart lead testing programs for schools and day care centers and in 2018, ensured that those programs were fully funded.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), lead is much more harmful to children than adults because it can affect children’s developing nerves and brains. Lead-based paint, still encasing the walls of many homes, often erodes and settles on children’s toys on the floor, eventually falling into the hands and mouths of children. For children under the age of 6, lead exposure can result in developmental delays, learning difficulties, and behavioral issues, which may lead to lifelong health and financial consequences. Senators Schumer and Gillibrand have long advocated for protecting New York’s children and families in the past by securing millions of dollars in federal funding to eradicate the toxic element from homes in order to reduce lead-poisoning cases. Lead poisoning can cause developmental difficulties, physical pain, and neurological damage.

The purpose of the Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Program is to identify and control lead-based paint hazards in eligible privately-owned housing for rental or owner-occupants. These grants are used to assist municipalities in carrying out lead hazard control activities.