READING, Pa. — The Reading City Council heard plans Monday night for an initial five-year lead paint abatement program for city residents.
Two federal grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will fund the program, Jamal F. Abodalo, the city's community development director, told the council during its committee of the whole meeting.
The city will be receiving a $2.9 million lead hazard reduction grant and a $400,000 health improvement grant.
Abodalo said Reading is ranked as the third-highest zone in Pennsylvania for children with lead poisoning.
While lead paint was banned in 1978, Abodalo said most of the city's housing stock predates that time.
On average, Abodalo said about 500 children in the city are diagnosed with lead poisoning each year.
Abodalo said the short-term goals of the program will be to bring public awareness to the health issue and increase blood lead testing in children. The Moran administration also plans to develop a five-year strategic plan within one year.
Within two years, Abodalo said the city will work with Berks Community Action Program on its annual weatherization program and establish the benchmarks for targeted remediation.
In years three to five, Abodalo said the city plans to remediate 50 homes per year, for a total of 150 homes.
"We are hoping to be able to continue with the program for many years to come," Abodalo said. "We want to continue to grow and pick up more momentum. We will start slow and grow the program. 150 homes is just scratching the surface."