U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson presented a $1.5 million check to the City of Waco to fund lead paint remediation.
The city applied last year for the Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Program.
Wednesday’s presentation is all part of an approved ordinance aimed at protecting children from exposure to lead paint in their homes and other places they gather.
“Grants like this are an important step to creating safer and healthier homes,” Dr. Carson says. “Frequently being successful in giving them [children] a second chance of life, only made me face a few days later, the horrible dilemma of having to send them back into a horrible environment with lead and mold, rats and roaches. And now as the secretary of HUD, there’s a chance to actually do something about it.”
Last year, a study found an alarming 13 percent of children in the North Waco area had high amounts of lead in their bodies – a catalyst for the ordinance.
“Unfortunately, that kind of damage that occurs with lead exposure tends to be long-term,” Dr. Carson says.
The money will also allow the city to provide health counseling services to families of children with high lead levels, environmental testing and inspections.
Organization leaders then thanked the secretary in a roundtable discussion on how the money will help.
“And we’re very excited about the ability to be able to do something now,” says Sherry Williams, of the Waco Health District.
“Any level has a tremendous impact on instructional outcomes and behavioral outcomes,” says Pat Atkins, of the Waco Independent School District.
“Through your funding [Carson], that has been extremely helpful to our population,” says Babara Tate, of the Heart of Texas MHMR.
FOX44 spoke with a HUD official regarding Dr. Carson stepping down at the end of the term as HUD secretary, but they say no matter who fills his place this issue of lead exposure and children will remain a top priority.