In a critical move for healthy housing in New Jersey, the Murphy administration has announced $38 million in lead remediation and abatement grants throughout the Garden State. This investment is key in addressing and preventing lead poisoning in children nationwide. The grant program is a part of the Murphy administration’s unprecedented investment of $180 million in American Rescue Plan State Fiscal Recovery Funds through the State Fiscal Year 2022 and 2023 budgets.
In 2021, legislation was passed to mandate lead paint hazard inspections, helping the administration identify and address lead hazards at scale. Upon completion of inspections, grants are available to help homeowners and landlords alike address any dangers that may be present. To address these concerns, 20 organizations have been selected for funding in response to a Request for Proposals for the first tranche of this funding. An additional Request for Proposal is set to be announced before the end of the state fiscal year in June. Funding will also be available for high-performing agencies and organizations proposing innovative abatement methods.
Per Governor Murphy, “Today marks the start of our next phase in combatting the growing crisis of lead exposure that affects far too many families in New Jersey. This funding will allow nonprofits and local governments in New Jersey to assist residents in their lead remediation and abatement efforts, including thousands of Black and Brown families and children who disproportionately suffer from lead poisoning. Lt. Governor Oliver and I are committed to this cause and will continue to work together to reduce these numbers.”
Lieutenant Sheila Oliver stated, “This funding is creating new and equitable investments in improving people’s health and remediating and abating lead hazards in homes across the state. As a result, community-based organizations can conduct lead-safe repairs and energy efficiency improvements in residential units. The funding will also help build capacity within DCA and at the local government level to address lead hazards through new hires and apprenticeships, training, and seed capital to attract new community-based organizations into the field.”
The grant funds will identify and remediate lead-based paint hazards through encapsulation, replacement, or reduction. Encapsulation and replacement are measures designed to reduce human exposure to lead-based paint hazards temporarily. Lead abatement measures provide a long-term solution to removing lead-based paint hazards from surfaces via replacement and repair. Priority will be given to proposals that serve areas with the highest level of need based on the number of children under six with elevated blood lead levels.
This work will follow the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Renovation, Repair, and Painting (RRP) rule from 2010. The RRP rule requires that firms performing renovation, repair, and painting projects that disturb lead-based paint in homes, childcare facilities, and preschools built before 1978 be certified by EPA (or an EPA-authorized state), use certified renovators who are trained by EPA-approved training providers to do the work, and follow lead-safe work practices. The lead-safe work standards require renovation firms to do the following:
- Comply with specific requirements for containing the work area;
- Refrain from using certain high-dust-generating work practices; and
- Adhere to a specific cleaning protocol, including a step called “cleaning verification,” after finishing the paint-disturbing tasks involved in a renovation.
At predetermined intervals, grantees must report program data to DCA. The Department will analyze this data to develop program best practices and to consider any potential program expansion. Among other data, DCA will collect information on the location of remediated units, type of housing, year of construction, project scope, hazard types, remediation costs per unit, etc.
Of the 20 organizations chosen to receive this funding, Isles Inc. of Trenton was selected to receive $2,000,000 for remediation efforts. For many years, Isles has been conducting extensive testing and connecting families to the resources and corrective services needed to address any hazards in their homes.
Through their Healthy Homes initiative, in 2021 alone, Isles conducted 65 in-person and virtual healthy homes assessments, weatherized or provided heating-system repairs to 45 low-income families, and successfully advocated for the passage of the new Lead Safe Certificate Bill. Isles is continuously making a difference in Trenton and beyond, and they are now receiving the funding they need to continue this fantastic work in our community.
DCA offers a Guide to Lead-Based Paint in Rental Dwellings on its website, which provides a comprehensive overview of lead-based paint hazards, how to inspect for such risks, and how threats can be mitigated or eliminated for compliance with P.L.2021, c.182. The five-part guide is intended to serve owners and residents of rental dwellings throughout the State of New Jersey.
Additionally, DCA, in partnership with the New Jersey Departments of Health (DOH) and Environmental Protection (DEP), recently announced the launch of an expanded version of the Potential Lead Exposure Mapping (PLEM) tool, which provides new publicly available data that indicate potential sources of lead exposure. The device is Potential Lead Exposure Mapping (PLEM) – Housing in New Jersey (arcgis.com).
Identifying and removing lead in our communities is a critical step in ensuring the next generation of New Jerseyans grows up happy and healthy. Thanks to the efforts of the Murphy administration, families all across the state will now be empowered with the solutions they need to make the necessary improvements in their homes. To learn more about this life-changing program, visit the DCA website here: DCA – Home. Lead-free is the way to be!