PHA Completes Lead Assessment of Homes with Young Children

More than 1,500 homes were examined and repairs were made to six

(Philadelphia - October 10, 2018)- Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) has completed visual assessments of lead-based paint hazards on all homes in its portfolio built before 1978 where at least one child under six years of age lives.

More than 1,500 homes were assessed that could potentially pose a risk of lead exposure. Following protocols established by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), PHA staff corrected the few deficiencies identified. EPA-certified risk assessors then tested the repaired areas and confirmed that the corrections were effective. All work has now been completed. 

"Our responsibility to the health and safety of the children who live in PHA properties is paramount," said PHA President and CEO Kelvin A. Jeremiah. "Although we inspect properties for chipped or damaged paint at least annually, we intensified our efforts in keeping with a national movement by school districts and housing authorities to check older buildings and any noted hazards were corrected. Now we can declare all of our properties where it was documented that children under six reside are currently free of lead-based paint hazard."

Most of Philadelphia's properties were built before 1978 when lead-based paint was widely and routinely used. PHA has since rebuilt many of its developments after lead-based paint was banned, and while the majority of PHA's properties have been renovated over time, pre-1978 units remain.  Although the homes' interiors have been painted many times over in the ensuing years, underlying lead can become exposed when an area, such as a window sill or wall, is damaged.

The most recent round of assessments began in July 2018 and represents a special one-time review.  However, PHA annually examines all pre-1978 homes where children under six live. In addition, when a family moves out of a home, EPA-certified risk assessors test dust samples from the unit to confirm that there are no current lead-based paint hazards present before the next family can move in. All PHA maintenance staff - more than 600 employees - have been trained and/or retrained in lead-safe work practices. 

PHA also initiated a public education campaign about lead safety. PHA contacted all residents living in pre-1978 homes and encouraged them to report deteriorated paint in their properties. These families also received pamphlets on keeping their homes safe from lead-based paint exposure. Moreover, PHA established a Lead Paint Hotline for residents (215-684-8600) so that they can call with questions and concerns about lead-based paint in their homes. Upon receiving a call about deteriorated paint in the home, PHA seeks to perform a visual assessment within 24 hours. Lead-based paint information has also been posted on the PHA website at www.pha.phila.gov/lead-information/what-is-lead.aspx.

"It is very important that families play a role in keeping their homes safe," Jeremiah said. "We have trained our employees in lead-safe procedures, but we also need our residents to take care of their homes. And if they do have a young child in the household, they need to report damage to paint to us immediately."

As part of PHA's ongoing lead-based paint procedures, the agency is contracting with six highly skilled environmental consulting companies to conduct lead-based paint and lead hazard inspections, training, testing and monitoring activities within various PHA properties for the next five years. The contract represents a potential investment of more than $3.4 million per year toward the safety of our residents.