Initiative will make hundreds more Maine homes lead-safe
Assistant House Majority Leader Jared Golden joined housing advocates and community leaders Thursday to mark the rollout of a new program to protect young Mainers from lead poisoning.
“Lead poisoning costs Maine communities millions of dollars each year,” said Golden, D-Lewiston, who championed bipartisan legislation to create the new program. “And that doesn’t even begin to account for the human toll, costs that cannot truly be measured. Its effects are long-term and often irreversible. The best and most cost-effective way to address the problem is to prevent it in the first place. That’s why this initiative is so important.”
The new $4 million program will help homeowners perform expensive lead abatement to protect their own families or families renting from them. The initiative, which is overseen by the Maine State Housing Authority, aims to encourage homeowners to address the presence of lead proactively before children are exposed.
Advocates say there is a critical need for the program in Maine, citing newly released data from the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Those figures show 322 cases of lead poisoning identified among Maine kids between September 2017 and September 2018.
“This new lead abatement initiative is going to make hundreds of Maine homes safe for kids at a time when we’re clearly still struggling to prevent lead poisoning statewide,” said Greg Payne, director of the Maine Affordable Housing Coalition. “We’re grateful to Rep. Golden and the bipartisan coalition of legislators who stepped up and provided the leadership to make it happen. Both our kids and our state’s finances will be healthier for it.”
Homes built prior to 1978 are at risk of containing lead paint. Lead is a known neurotoxin that can cause developmental delays, learning disabilities, behavioral issues and, in severe cases, convulsions, coma or death. Research has determined there is no safe blood lead level for children.
For more information and to seek program funds, homeowners and landlords should contact MaineHousing directly at 626-4600 or visit www.mainehousing.org.
Golden is running for the 2nd District U.S. Congressional Seat.