HUD awards $1.3M to Spartanburg for lead reduction program in low-income housing


SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – The City of Spartanburg is working to make low-income housing safer for local families. 

City officials are ramping up efforts to rid older homes of potential hazards including lead-based paints. 

“Yes, there’s still lead-based paint around,” said Martin Livingston. 

Livingston, the city’s Neighborhood Services Directors, says lead-based paints are found in homes across Spartanburg. 

“In Spartanburg, almost 85 percent of homes were built before 1990,” Livingston told 7News.

Livington says many of the homes in the North and Southside were built before people knew the dangers of lead exposure, especially in children. 

“It can create an impact on their central nervous system, which can reduce their IQ,” said U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Senior Technical Assistance Specialist Jonnette Simmons. 

One of the older neighborhoods in Spartanburg is the South Converse area. 

A community John Rutledge has called home for the last decade. Rutledge says his home, like many in his neighborhood, was built more than 40 years ago. 

“So it’s understandable that the material used back in the day was lead-based,” Rutledge told 7News.

Eliminating lead hazards in lower-income communities is an issue the city had tried tackling, but always came up short. 

“One reason was funding,” Livingston told 7News. “But another was capacity.” 

For the first time, the city qualified for HUD’s Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Program. Spartanburg was awarded $1.3 million dollars to test and clean up 42 lead-contaminated homes over the next 3 years. 

“I think it’s great that it will help the people from a financial, as well as, from a health perspective,” Rutledge told 7News. 

The City of Spartanburg is the only city in South Carolina to be awarded money through the grant. 

Livingston says the city plans to partner with other local organizations including the Spartanburg Housing Authority and the Health Department. 

People who believe their homes may qualify for the program can apply to have a home assessed done in November. 

Livingston hopes to begin rehab by January 2020.      

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