UNLV, City of Las Vegas Receive $1.8M from HUD to Remove Lead from Older Homes

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By Keyonna Summers, Media Relations Specialist

LAS VEGAS – UNLV Community Health Sciences faculty and students are partnering with the City of Las Vegas on a $1.8 million U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) grant to offer free repairs on the city’s oldest homes – protecting children and families from lead-based paint hazards and other home health and safety concerns. The goal of the Las Vegas Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes Program is to reduce incidences of childhood lead poisoning and create healthy housing, especially for high-risk populations such as young children, racial/ethnic minorities, and low-income residents. The program will target zip codes in Las Vegas that contain the oldest housing, which carry the highest likelihood of lead-based paint hazards.

The City of Las Vegas, with assistance from UNLV, will address lead and health or safety hazards in at least 85 homes during a three-year period. The program will also provide education and outreach to at least 2,500 families in the target area.

More than 90 Henderson homes received repairs under a previous UNLV Healthy Homes grant.

“The collaboration between the City of Las Vegas and UNLV to address Healthy Homes issues is a great example of how collaborative research benefits our communities, cities and educational institutions,” said Shawn Gerstenberger, dean of UNLV’s School of Community Health Sciences. “Public health is about helping people, and we’re pleased to partner with a forward-thinking organization like the City of Las Vegas on such a worthwhile effort.”

The program is free to Las Vegas residents – both homeowners and renters – who meet the following criteria:

Live in a home built before 1978

Have at least one child 5 years or younger or an expectant mother living in or frequently visiting the home

Meet HUD income guidelines

To find out if you qualify, contact Earlie King with the City of Las Vegas at 702-229-5935 or emking@lasvegasnevada.gov. Student and faculty inspectors expect to begin repairs this spring.

Lead-contaminated dust is the primary cause of lead exposure and can lead to a variety of health problems in young children, including learning disabilities, developmental delays, reduced height and impaired hearing. At higher levels, lead can damage a child’s kidneys and central nervous system and cause anemia, coma, convulsions and even death.

If lead-based paint hazards are found in a home, eligible applicants will receive no-cost lead hazard control services. Additionally, nearly $150,000 of the grant will be set aside for UNLV’s Healthy Homes specialists to examine and fix preventable health issues within the homes, including:

Asthma triggers (mold, cockroaches and pests, dust, and dust mites)

Poisoning hazards (improperly stored medicines, chemicals, and cleaning supplies)

Unintentional injuries (eliminating fall and trip hazards, repairing stairs, and smoke detectors)

The Las Vegas Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes Program may be able to replace air filters, repair leaky pipes, install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and in some cases conduct structural repair.

UNLV’s Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, within the School of Community Health Sciences, has broad experience in addressing environmental health hazards in community housing through numerous projects supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Since 2006, the department has lead a consortium of city and county housing and health authorities, and other public and private partners in developing a healthy homes strategic plan for Clark County. Major initiatives include the Clark County Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program to reduce childhood lead poisoning. The department is also a certified Environmental Protection Agency Lead Training Center, educating health inspectors, contractors, and environmental health specialists on the hazards of lead, as well as testing and abatement of lead.