More help is on the way to battle Milwaukee’s lead paint problem. The city just announced it was awarded a $5.6 million federal grant to combat the threat.
Mayor Tom Barrett made the announcement Tuesday at the Sixteenth Street Clinic, a place that’s on the front lines of the lead issue in the city.
Carmen Reinmund knows firsthand how lead can impact families. For more than 20 years she’s been the coordinator for the lead outreach program at the Sixteenth Street Clinic.
"Many children continue to be exposed to lead-based paint and not knowing the risk,” Reinmund said. “If the owner doesn't want to fix the house so they move to another home, another child gets poisoned in there."
This vicious cycle may improve with the grant just awarded to Milwaukee by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
"To me this is an issue that we have to continue to be vigilant with because there are literally thousands of homes, older homes in the city that have lead-based paint,” Barrett said.
The funding will be used to abate 320 homes where kids have high lead levels. The city will also hire and train 40 people to do the work.
"The health department is considering lead as a winnable battle,” Milwaukee Commissioner of Health Jeanette Kowalik said.
Since 2004 the city has abated more than 17,000 homes and 70% less kids have tested positive for lead poisoning.
However, the problem still exists, and it’s higher in the zip codes by the Sixteenth Street Clinic, which makes Reinmund all the more excited for this new resource.
"I feel hopeful that the funding is coming back and we could protect more children,” Reinmund said.
As for water laterals, Barrett said the city is looking for a variety of other funding sources. He also proposed more than $21 million in lead abatement and reduction funding as a part of his 2020 budget.