News

KCCHA, BHA working to improve home health

By CHARLES MELTON

Editor

The Bremerton City Council’s decision to allow the Bremerton Housing Authority to participate in the Kitsap County Consolidated Housing Authority’s lead abatement program didn’t create much fanfare about a month ago.

However, for Bremerton resident Loxie Schneider it was nothing short of a “godsend.”

Concerns about lead paint in her home led Schneider to postpone visits from her granddaughter in Minneapolis, Minn., and when Schneider first became involved in the program those fears were well-founded.

“I read their (KCCHA’s) offer and it said if your home was built before 1976 it probably had lead paint,” she said. “My house was built in 1936.”

Initial testing on her home revealed that both her home’s interior and exterior contained large areas of lead-based paint, she said.

“It was pretty heavily infested,” she said.

After the testing was completed, KCCHA staff visually inspected her home and found several areas that were in need of lead removal, she said.

Among the places were the home’s exterior and interior walls, which Schneider repainted shortly after she moved into her home, but the kitchen was the worst, she said.

“It was on the kitchen cabinets and kitchen counters,” she said. “Because I wash my dishes by hand I was chipping lead paint every time I put dishes up.”

Although Schneider had replaced a couple of windows in her home over the past few years, the remaining windows needed to be replaced along with the kitchen cabinets, countertops and floor, which would have been an overwhelming expense.

“They were able to fund most of the windows and they’re going to be painting the exterior and replacing the kitchen cabinets, countertops and floor,” Schneider said. “It’s a godsend.”

Schneider is just one example of the local homeowners who are eligible for the program, said Mary Barton, KCCHA rehabilitation and construction administrative assistant.

“They have to be below 80 percent of the median income of Kitsap County and the home needs to be built before 1978,” Barton said. “They also have to be in ownership of the home.”

There is the potential for a large number of homes in the county to benefit from the program, but currently the program only has three homes undergoing actual lead abatement, she said. Forty-five homes are on the waiting list for work to begin.

The program provides up to $7,200 per home to remedy the lead-based paint problem and the process begins as soon as the KCCHA receives a completed application, she said.

After the application is approved, testing is done on all of the surfaces in a home before a visual inspection is made, she said. Once that is done, the lead removal work will be scheduled.

Lead paint involves more than just visible chips and it is often a hidden health problem, she said.

“If you open and close a window that has lead paint, it creates dust,” she said. “It’s things that are often out of sight.”

While the primary focus of the program is on homeowners, it is also available to landlords who have low-income tenants, and the KCCHA works with the BHA for the BHA’s Section 8 tenants, she said.

“It’s a great service to the community,” she said.

Applications can be procured by calling Barton at (360) 535-6131 and the process will begin immediately.

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