NEWARK, NJ - The City of Paterson will work with local medical and social service providers to remove lead paint in 66 low-income housing units with children, thanks to a $3.4 million grant announced Friday by U.S. Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker, and Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr. (N.J.-09). The funding was awarded by U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in Lead Based Paint Hazard Reduction funding. 

“This is a critical investment in our children’s health and in our state’s future,” said Sen. Menendez, ranking member of the Senate’s housing subcommittee. “In 2020, no child should live in a home that’s dangerous to their health, and we must continue investing federal resources to ensure all federally-assisted homes are free of lead hazards. The cost of inaction is far too great for our kids and our communities.”

According to data compiled by the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) more than 3,000 children each year in New Jersey are diagnosed with lead poisoning from exposure to lead paint and other sources in the home, according to data .

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“Lead exposure in homes threatens the health and safety of families across our country, particularly in some of our most underserved communities,” said Sen. Booker. "We already know that the potential health impacts of lead poisoning can be devastating to a child, so we have an obligation to secure the resources needed to address these hazards. This federal investment will help the City of Paterson mitigate the threat of lead exposure in homes and protect New Jersey families.”

Citing lead exposure in homes from Michigan to New Jersey, including in water pipes and the pain on interior walls, Pascrell said that the consequences of contamination in homes has been tragic. “We must do everything possible to reduce and eradicate the public health menace that is lead exposure,” Pascrell said. 

“These funds will help Paterson identify, treat, and prevent lead contamination in our neighborhoods so future generations can be protected from incidental contact or ingestion.” 

A statement from the lawmakers also said that lead hazards in a home pose serious health and safety threats to children. Lead poisoning causes significant health, neurological, behavioral, intellectual, and academic impairments. When absorbed into the body, especially in young children, lead can damage the brain and nervous system, slow development and growth, and cause learning or behavioral problems.

“We are elated and profoundly grateful that the City of Paterson has been awarded this $3 million HUD grant for lead hazard reduction, likely the largest federal grant for a specific project in the city’s history, and we are grateful to Senator Menendez for championing our application,” Mayor Andre Sayegh said. While crediting the Division of Health Child Lead and City Lead Program for working diligently for numerous years to address lead hazards related to childhood lead poisoning in the City, Sayegh lamented that “the missing component throughout this time was funding to provide the construction improvements necessary for lead abatement, as it can be cost prohibitive to most homeowners, especially in low-income communities, and must be done in a professionally prescribed manner.”

This grant, he said, “will go a long way in providing much needed assistance in the abatement of this first group of 66 homes in the City of Paterson.”

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