MASON CITY — The Cerro Gordo County Department of Public Health has been awarded over $2-and-a-half million by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development to help protect children and families from lead-based paint and home health hazards. The funding will be used to address lead hazards in 120 housing units, providing safer homes for low and very low-income families with children.

HUD Des Moines Field Office Director Steve Eggleston says his agency has a priority goal of protecting families from lead-based paint.“It has two distinct qualities, lead based paint. Its intensity, and the intensity can be very severe, but we may not know it’s occurring, and its invisibility, because it can go undetected. That’s why the testing that goes on through the public health department is very important.”

Eggleston says HUD recently announced a record $319 million nationwide effort to help target health hazards in more than 14,700 low-income homes with significant lead and health hazards.  “We know that children, the poor, minorities and people with chronic medical conditions are disproportionately impacted by unhealthy homes. So again, the importance of repairing and working on these older homes is very important.”

Myrtle Nelson with the North Iowa Area Council of Governments says a number of homes in the county could still have lead-based paint in them.  “In Cerro Gordo County, one of every three homes was built before indoor plumbing was a thing, so we have some pretty old housing. Four out of five of those homes were built before 1980 when lead was finally banned from lead paint. Being able to address those issues not only ensures that our kids are safer, it also makes our housing stock better, and that makes our community better.”

CG Health director Brian Hanft says if a person wants to apply for the program they should contact the health department.  “We usher participants through the process start to finish, we try to make that process as easy on people to enroll as possible. Then as far as the process goes, once the home is in the works with the contractors receiving updates, we actually work with those homeowners to move them out if it’s necessary while that work is being done, again trying to make that process as easy on the people who are living in that space is possible.”

For more information, you can contact CG Health at 421-9300