Irvington receives first-ever lead-based grant

IRVINGTON, NJ — Good fortune smiled on Irvington when, for the first time ever, the township was awarded a $3.3 million grant by the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development on Monday, Sep. 30.

Irvington was selected to receive this enormous grant in order to conduct lead-remediation activities and to reduce the number of lead-based paint hazards and other environmental hazards present in housing throughout the township.

“As a first-time recipient of this grant, this is a historic award for the township of Irvington. We are happy to receive funds that provide the financial resources for us to identify and clean up dangerous lead found in our housing stock,” Mayor Tony Vauss said in a press release sent to the Irvington Herald on Friday, Jan. 10. “With this new funding, we can further achieve our goal to make Irvington safe and clean by protecting our children and families from exposure to lead hazards by identifying and remediating such hazards throughout Irvington.”

The grant is needed due to the older housing stock in Irvington. According to Genia C. Philip, director of the Department of Economic Development and Grants Oversight, lead-based paint was used in all housing in this country built prior to 1978.

Later, it was learned that lead-based paint is harmful for children and can cause health issues. Since that discovery, lead-based paint has been discontinued. The federal government has recognized the need to assist local governments with removing lead-based paint hazards from their properties.

According to the press release, on Monday, Sep. 30, after a competitive application process, more than $314 million was awarded to 77 states and local agencies. Philip, who submitted the grant application on behalf of the township in August 2019, will serve as the project director.

Philip said the township is excited about the positive changes the grant will have for residents.

“This is a record investment, by the federal government, to protect children and families from lead-based paint and home health hazards,” said Philip to the Irvington Herald via phone interview on Monday, Jan. 13. “The township of Irvington is excited about the positive changes implementing this grant will have in the lives of our residents.

“The amount was awarded based on the number of residents in the city. Hence, why a census is important. Irvington received the highest amount available for a municipality of our size, which never before happened.

“In order to receive funds, submitting an application to implement the grant and the need for the grant is how Irvington was considered,” said Philip. “This grant award is significant for the township of Irvington because it was one of 77 government agencies to be awarded the grant nationally.”

According to the press release, the project will include coordination with the township’s Department of Health and Senior Services, which will conduct home and paint quality-control checks throughout the township. The Irvington Neighborhood Improvement Corporation will facilitate relocation for those in need of temporary housing during the remediation, and the Department of Housing and Building Construction will conduct inspections to ensure remediation/abatement is consistent with state and local housing-code requirements.

The press release further stated that, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the awarded grants will protect families and children by targeting health hazards in approximately 6,500 low-income homes nationally with significant lead and health hazards. U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development’s lead hazard control grant programs have successfully filled critical needs for remediating housing hazards, focusing on the most vulnerable residents of communities with limited local resources to address these hazards.

If all goes according to plan, the project is scheduled to have the first remediation completed by the end of spring.