Was your home or apartment built before 1978? Do you have painted surfaces that are in a deteriorated condition?
Knoxville residents who answer “yes” and live in a household earning up to 80 percent of Knoxville’s median household income may qualify to participate in the Knoxville Lead-Safe and Healthy Homes Program, facilitated by the City’s Community Development Department and Knoxville-Knox County Community Action Committee (CAC)’s Housing and Energy Services.
Qualifying applicants include homeowners that have a pregnant woman in the household, or a child (or children) under the age of 6 who lives in the house or visits for a significant amount of time. Rental units do not require a qualifying child occupant.
“Many people don’t think about lead as a household hazard, but it can go undetected and untreated in many homes located in Knoxville’s older residential neighborhoods,” says Todd Kennedy, Construction Management Supervisor in the Community Development Department.
Infants and young children are most at risk from lead-based hazards; ingesting paint chips or lead dust can damage a child’s vital organs and cause behavioral, learning and speech problems.
Lead-based paint, which was banned in 1978, is typically found on windows, doors, siding, trim, porches and railings. According to the Tennessee Department of Health, homes built between 1940 and 1959 have a 69 percent chance of containing lead-based paint; homes built before 1940 have an 87 percent chance.
City residents, including homeowners, landlords and tenants, who believe they may qualify for the program are encouraged to apply. Information and pre-screening application forms are available online at KnoxvilleTN.gov/HealthyHomes or by calling CAC Housing and Energy Services at 865-244-3080.
The program is funded by a $3.6 million grant the Community Development Department received in December 2018 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes. The City used a similar grant to improve 200 households between 2013 and 2017. This round of funding will address lead hazards in at least 160 housing units.
“Cleaning up lead hazards is a standard practice in all Community Development housing programs, so this grant funding frees up other federal and local funds to be directed to other departmental efforts to support the creation and rehabilitation of affordable housing,” says Community Development Director Becky Wade.
In addition to remediating lead and other household hazards, the grant will fund the training of 175 local residents in lead-based paint remediation, enhancing the job skills and experience of our local workforce.
Low-income households are those earning incomes up to 80 percent of the area median income (AMI). Knoxville’s AMI is currently $66,600.
Each year, HUD designates June as National Healthy Homes Month. This year’s theme, "Growing Up Safe and Healthy: 5 Minutes to a Healthy Home," promotes the importance of home assessments, and seeks to empower people to make change in order to create the healthiest home possible for their family. HUD defines healthy homes as dry, clean, safe, well-ventilated, maintained, thermally controlled and free of pests and contaminants. Additional information, including links to download HUD smartphone apps, is available at HUD.gov/HealthyHomes.
For more information about housing programs offered by the City’s Community Development department, visit KnoxvilleTN.gov/Development.