DCA Announces New Initiatives to Help New Jersey Residents Live Lead-Safe

CAMDEN - The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) today at the Paul Robeson Library at Rutgers University-Camden Campus launched three new initiatives designed to keep New Jersey families safe from lead, a highly toxic metal that was used for many years in products found in and around people's homes. The programs are funded through a trust account that was established under the 2004 Lead Hazard Control Assistance Act.

"There is a significant amount of lead in New Jersey because of the state's older housing stock and long industrial history. This legacy of lead often results in unacceptably high exposure levels in people, particularly children," said DCA Commissioner Lori Grifa. "Governor Christie and I recognize the threat posed by lead poisoning and have made prevention a priority. Through these new initiatives, New Jersey residents will be provided with the information and assistance they need to live safe from lead."

On the first initiative, the DCA partnered with the National Center for Neighborhood and Brownfields Development at Rutgers University's Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy to create an online, searchable Lead-Safe Housing Registry that allows users to identify lead-safe housing units by county, municipality or street address. The Registry can now be accessed at www.njleadsafe.info. In addition to learning the lead status of a particular home, the website provides information on the neighborhood, schools, hospitals, parks, mass transit stops and other information that a family may be interested in when seeking housing.

The Registry currently contains information on more than 500,000 dwelling units in the state. All the units listed fall into one of several categories: they have undergone lead abatement treatments to permanently eliminate lead-based paint hazards; they are subject to property maintenance requirements that control lead-based paint hazards; they have been tested and found to have no lead-based paint; or they were built after December 31, 1977. Housing built after 1977 is considered lead free because lead-based paint in residential dwellings was banned in 1978 due to its toxicity to people.

On the second initiative, the DCA is working with Catholic Charities Diocese of Camden to provide assistance to families with children under the age of 18 who have already been exposed to lead in their primary residence. The new program, Housing Assistant for Lead-Safe Living Opportunities (HALLO), is being demonstrated in New Jersey's seven southern counties: Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem. The DCA awarded Catholic Charities a $136,625 grant to get the program started.

Working directly with a HALLO Program representative, a family can apply for relocation assistance to move to lead-safe housing. Services offered to applicants include housing case management, housing counseling, budget counseling, relocation application packaging, and temporary and permanent lead-safe housing location. In addition, HALLO Program representatives will identify housing constructed after December 31, 1977, in the seven-county area and submit their findings to the DCA for inclusion on the Lead Safe Housing Registry.  For more information on the HALLO Program or to apply for services, please contact Catholic Charities, Diocese of Camden at (856) 342-4100.

On the third initiative, the DCA is working with Northern New Jersey Maternal & Child Health Consortium Inc., Monmouth County Health Department, and Southern New Jersey Perinatal Cooperative Inc. to assist homeowners statewide in identifying lead-based paint hazards in their homes. The Lead Education/Outreach (LEO) Program provides homeowners with a free lead dust wipe kit and/or EPA-approved lead spot test kit. If a lead dust or lead-based paint hazard is identified, a LEO Program representative can assist the homeowner in applying for Lead Hazard Control Assistance funds to remediate the problem. If a homeowner wants to make repairs to defective paint themselves, the LEO Program can provide low-cost training to ensure the work is done in a lead-safe manner. The DCA awarded $350,000 grants to each of the three program partners. For more information on the LEO Program, please visit www.leadsafenj.org and click on "Help Near You" to find the LEO agency that serves your community.

The Indoor Environmental Hazards Unit in the DCA's Division of Housing and Community Resources administers the Lead Hazard Control Assistance Fund. For more information on the Lead Hazard Control Assistance Act and the programs it funds, please visit www.leadsafenj.org or contact the DCA at 1-877-DCA-LEAD.