Statement as issued Monday:
Fort Wayne, Ind. – The City of Fort Wayne is taking the next step in its plan to create healthier homes by applying a nearly $2.5 million federal grant towards the removal of lead paint. The city is partnering with the Upstar Alliance of Realtors and the Apartment Association to host a training session for realtors and landlords on Tuesday, May 8 at 11 a.m. The session will be at the Upstar office, 3401 E. Dupont Road, near I-69. Pre-registration is not required.
Last month, city officials announced plans to use a $2.47 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to create healthier homes by improving the city’s rental housing stock. The grant was awarded as part of HUD’s Lead-Based Paint Hazard Control Program, which aims to increase and preserve the amount of safe, decent and affordable rental housing, nationwide.
The $2,478,240 in funding was given to the city’s Office of Housing & Neighborhood Services (OHNS), which works to rid city homes of lead-based paint hazards found in homes built prior to 1978, as well as other housing code deficiencies. The City was one of only 43 municipalities and states to receive a portion of the $110 million in HUD funding, which will be used over a three-year period.
Fort Wayne succeeded in winning the grant, in part, because the OHNS brought local agencies together to form the Fort Wayne/ Allen County Healthy Homes Consortium, which worked together to apply for the grant. The involved agencies include the Fort Wayne Housing Authority, CANI, the Fort Wayne/Allen County Department of Health and the St. Joseph Community Health Foundation.
At the May 8 training session, organizers will talk about how the City plans to talk about what role realtors and landlords can play in the initiative. The city is seeking landlords who want to secure low-interest rate loans to have the lead paint hazard removed from their properties, so that they can then rent to low- and moderate-income tenants (for) a specified period of time. The city is seeking real estate professionals who want to help identify properties, potential properties and tenants for the program.
Landlords from throughout the city are welcome to participate, however, the program will target rental homes located in “opportunity neighborhoods,” which are areas that have less than 20 percent poverty and have access to the bus line, fresh groceries and jobs.
The city aims to expand housing options by making sure there is safe, decent and affordable housing throughout the city, for all income levels, but particularly for households at 30 to 50 percent of area median income.
By the end of the three-year period, the city expects to provide free Lead Risk Assessments to 875 landlords who are either participants or seeking to participate in the Fort Wayne Housing Authority’s Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program, but will also include the creation of Fort Wayne’s first Healthy Neighborhoods project, which will be located in Southeast Fort Wayne. The citywide program will also include identifying 780 units that will receive lead remediation and cleanup, holding at least 36 outreach or educational events and providing skills to low-income residents so that they can be empowered to become lead abatement contractors.
Lead-contaminated dust is the primary cause of lead exposure and can lead to a variety of health problems in young children, including reduced IQ, learning disabilities and developmental delays.