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Lead remediation, home repair programs highlighted by Columbus leaders

Lead water pipes are still used in many U.S. homes.
Seth Perlman
Lead water pipes are still used in many U.S. homes.

A recent $2 million federal grant will boost Columbus programs designed to address lead and other household hazards, Mayor Andrew Ginther announced Wednesday.

The city will use the federal money for its Healthy Homes Program, which offers families up to $7,500 to fix health and safety concerns in homes with children under six, seniors, and people with disabilities.

"Our Healthy Homes assessments identify hazards such as mold and mildew, pest, poor indoor air quality, carbon monoxide, and the identification and removal of lead-based paint, as well as specifications to correct these hazards," said Health Commissioner Dr. Mysheika Roberts.

The city was awarded the grant through the Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes (a division of HUD), Ginther said, because of the city's success with its Lead Safe Columbus Program.

"Lead poisoning remains the number one environmental threat to children in America," Ginther said. "But with the right information and the right resources, it is completely preventable."

To date, the lead remediation program has addressed health hazards in more than 200 Columbus homes and completed more than $460,000 in repairs.

Dr. Roberts said lead exposure can seriously harm a child's health, including brain and nervous system damage, slowed growth and development, learning and behavior issues, and problems with speech and hearing.

"Signs and symptoms usually don't appear until dangerous amounts have accumulated in the body. That is why we as a community must do everything we can do to prevent children from being exposed to lead in the first place," Roberts said.

Additionally, the Columbus Emergency Repair Program offers homeowners up to $7,500 for essential repairs to abate certain emergency conditions.

"I've heard stories of families, our seniors and people with disabilities, living with caved-in ceilings, mold in their basement, or carbon monoxide leaks, which often leads them to the hospital, or to stay at a friend's house or expending their personal resources on hotels," said Councilmember Shayla Favor. "This is not only devastating, it's simply unacceptable."

Eligible repairs include leaking, obstructed or clogged toilets, sinks, tubs and sewer lines; loss of heat; leaking or inoperable hot water tanks; loss of electricity; and more.

Applications are currently being accepted for all three programs. For more information visit: Lead Safe Columbus, Healthy Homes and Columbus Emergency Repair.

Matthew Rand is the Morning Edition host for 89.7 NPR News. Rand served as an interim producer during the pandemic for WOSU’s All Sides daily talk show.