LEWISTON — The effort to make homes safer in Lewiston got a hearty boost Friday.

The city will receive more than $5 million for lead abatement.

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins was in Biddeford on Friday to announce that a federal grant worth $15 million will be allocated to support lead abatement projects by several cities, including Lewiston.

The funding, which was awarded through the Department of Housing and Urban Development, is meant to help protect Maine children and families from lead-based paint and home health hazards.

As part of the Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction grant, Lewiston will be awarded $4.61 million and an additional $600,000 in Healthy Homes Supplemental funding.

Lewiston officials said with those funds in hand, the city will address lead hazards in 280 housing units providing safer homes for low- and very low-income families with children. The city will also perform healthy homes assessments in 250 units, and work with other medical and social service providers.

“Approximately 68% of the housing in downtown Lewiston was built before 1940, making it more likely to have lead paint hazards,” Mayor Kristin Cloutier said. “The federal government has been a critical partner in our efforts to combat this public health hazard, awarding the city a total of $14.6 million in grant funds since 2002 to make our housing stock lead-safe, and to educate residents on how to protect their children from the hazards of lead paint.”

Last year, Maine housing advocates announced the rollout of a $4 million state lead-abatement program aimed at filling gaps for landlords in need of funding to remove lead poisoning threats from buildings.

Lewiston has long been recognized as having one of the highest rates of childhood lead poisoning in the state, and officials working on local efforts say the new program will result in more complete lead-removal projects.

Also receiving money through the program are the cities Biddeford and Portland.

“Lead poisoning poses a severe threat to human health, especially to children and pregnant women,” Collins said. “Since I have been chairman of the Housing Appropriations Subcommittee, we have increased funding for Lead Hazard Control by 163 percent. Lead poisoning is a preventable health problem, and we are making progress. These grants are a significant step forward in our efforts to eradicate this health threat.”

Maine State Housing Director Daniel Brennan echoed the senators thoughts.

“It’s important to remember that like other issues related to housing safety and affordability, our state’s problems with lead are solvable,” he said. “We are grateful for this funding and are excited to continue to commit ourselves to lead remediation efforts across the state, and to working closely with our partners at the federal and local level to make sure Mainers’ homes are safe.”

Other cities and agencies receiving funding are:

  • Portland will be awarded $2.04 million in Lead Based Paint Hazard Reduction grant program funding and $503,655 in Healthy Homes Supplemental funding. The city will address lead hazards in 100 housing units providing safer homes for low- and very low-income families with children. The city will also perform healthy homes assessments in 100 units, and work with other medical and social service providers.
  • The Maine State Housing Authority will be awarded $3.22 million in Lead Based Paint Hazard Reduction grant program funding and $600,000 in Healthy Homes Supplemental funding. The authority will address lead hazards in 240 housing units providing safer homes for low- and very low-income families with children. The authority will also perform healthy homes assessments in 180 units, and work with other medical and social service providers.
  • Biddeford will be awarded $2.95 million in Lead Based Paint Hazard Reduction grant program funding and $298,600 in Healthy Homes Supplemental funding. The city will address lead hazards in 135 housing units providing safer homes for low- and very low-income families with children. The city will also perform healthy homes assessments in 130 units, and work with other medical and social service providers.

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