NEWARK, N.J. – U.S. Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker announced today that Newark and Trenton will receive millions in federal grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to reduce lead hazards in public housing and protect children and families from the health risks associated with exposure to high levels of lead.

“We need to do everything we can to protect New Jersey children and families from the dangers of lead exposure in the home,” Sen. Menendez (D-NJ) said. “This federal funding is critical to enhancing efforts in Newark and Trenton to reduce lead hazards in public housing, making the homes safer for residents. I will continue to fight for additional resources to retrofit older homes and upgrade our failing infrastructure to protect the health and safety of New Jerseyans.”

"Under no circumstance should New Jersey families be forced to jeopardize their health or the health of their children due to dangerous levels of lead in their homes,” said Sen. Booker. "We already know the potential health impacts of lead poisoning can be devastating to a child, so we have an obligation to secure the resources needed to update the aging housing and infrastructure in our communities. This federal funding is critical to helping cities like Newark and Trenton take the necessary steps to protect New Jersey families.”

Newark was awarded $3 million from the Lead Hazard Reduction Demonstration grant program and $400,000 in Healthy Homes Supplemental funding in order to address lead hazards in 150 low-income housing units. The city will collaborate with the Newark Partnership for Lead Safe Children, the Municipal Court and Newark One Stop Career Center in order to carry out this project

Trenton was awarded $1,955,886 from the Lead Hazard Reduction Demonstration grant program funding and $194,445 in Healthy Homes Supplemental funding to address lead hazards in 145 housing units of low-income families with children. Trenton will be working with Isles, Inc., Trenton Division of Health and grass roots organizations such as A Better Way and the Neighborhood Improvement Association.

"Thank you to our federal elected officials for helping provide our communities the tools they need to solve this health epidemic," said Staci Berger, president and chief executive officer of the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey. "Nonprofit community developers in Newark and Trenton have the expertise to remediate homes and make them permanently safe for today's kids and future generations; it's a solvable problem, we just need the resources. Today's announcement is a big step in the right direction."

In 2015, there were more than 3,000 new cases of children under the age of 6 in New Jersey with elevated levels of lead in their blood. Over 225,000 young children in New Jersey have been afflicted by lead since 2000.

Last month, three provisions authored by Menendez passed as part of the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill. The provisions, part of the Lead-Safe Housing for Kids Act of 2016 that had originally been introduced in March with Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) as a stand-alone bill, require:

  • HUD to revise its blood lead level intervention regulations to reflect the levels used by the CDC;
  • Studio and efficiency apartments to be eligible for grants to address lead-based paint hazards, ensuring that children living in these units are afforded the same protection as other types of assisted units; and
  • The Government Accountability Office (GAO) to report on HUD’s policies, procedures and processes for oversight and enforcement to ensure public housing agencies comply with lead-based paint regulations, and analysis of existing federal programs to determine whether gaps exist and in compliance and enforcement of HUD’s lead-based paint regulations.

Earlier this year, Sens. Menendez and Booker co-sponsored the Testing, Removal and Updated Evaluations of Lead Everywhere in America for Dramatic Enhancements that Restore Safety to Homes, Infrastructure and Pipes Act of 2016, or True LEADership Act, which aims to respond to the national lead public health emergency through investments in water infrastructure, mandatory testing and notification of lead in water systems, grants to help school districts test for lead and a requirement for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to issue new health-based lead standards.

The True LEADership Act includes both Menendez’s Sustainable Water Infrastructure Investment Act of 2016, which was co-sponsored by Sen. Booker, to stimulate billions of dollars in private-sector investment to fund much-needed, large-scale repairs and upgrades to our water systems, and the Lead-Safe Housing for Kids Act of 2016.