Southwest Detroit residents in 48209 can now apply for free lead-based paint remediation of their homes

  • Funding from HUD, City of Detroit to go toward removing potential lead hazards from 455 homes over five years in the 48209 ZIP code
  • Detroit one of only seven communities across the country to receive such funding

The City of Detroit’s Housing & Revitalization Department is now accepting applications from southwest Detroit households to remove lead-based paint at zero cost to homeowners.

The City is hoping to enroll 455 households into the program over five years. Priority will be given to households with children under 6 years of age or with a pregnant mother or with children who have tested positive for lead. The effort is made possible through funding from the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD)’s High Impact Neighborhood grant program, which concentrates efforts in a single area for maximum impact.

The City chose to focus those resources on the 48209 ZIP code in southwest Detroit, where more than three-quarters of the housing stock was built before 1940, and there is a high number of low-income families and of children under 6 years of age. More than 50 children in the ZIP code were identified in 2017 testing as having elevated blood-lead levels. The project area selected is bounded by Vernor Highway to the north, Woodmere Street to the west, Livernois to the east and I-75 to the south.

Southwest Detroit residents living in that geographic area are invited to apply now at, by e-mailing [email protected], or calling 313-348-0010 (313-348-5581 for Spanish speakers) to sign up for the program, in which all work is funded through grants, so there is no cost to the homeowner. Work is to begin in October.

Lead-based paint is a well-known source of lead poisoning in Detroit. That’s because most of the city’s housing stock was built before lead-based paint was banned in 1978. This means that there is often lead paint still in the home, posing a threat to children from chipped or peeling paint.

Lead poisoning can cause severe issues with brain development, including learning disabilities and behavioral problems, but is preventable through remediation. Because of the risk of lead to the health of children, the City of Detroit has made reducing lead hazards a priority.

“It can cost up to $25,000 to properly remediate lead paint from a single house, and that is a cost that is simply unattainable to many Detroiters,” Mayor Mike Duggan said. “This program will keep kids safe and families in their homes. Just because a family isn’t wealthy doesn’t mean they don’t deserve a safe house for their child.”

Last October, Detroit became one of seven communities across the country awarded High Impact Neighborhood Awards in the United States. Detroit was awarded $9.7 million, the largest single amount awarded to a local government for lead-abatement efforts. The City of Detroit is pitching in a $1.16 million match.

The federal funding will see $9.1 million spent on a lead-based paint hazard reduction grant program and $600,000 in supplemental funding to address housing-related health and safety hazards, including mold, allergens, carbon monoxide and radon, in addition to lead-based paint hazards. The City will perform healthy homes assessments in 120 homes and work with medical and social service providers.

“This important work will not only improve the healthy and safety of housing in southwest Detroit but also improve equity in the city by funding home repairs,” said Donald Rencher, Director of the Housing & Revitalization Department. “We encourage residents in this priority census tract to participate in this lead hazard reduction program and to get their children tested for lead. Our goal is to create a ‘Lead Safe Detroit.’”

Partners in the initiative include the Detroit Heath Department; Bridging Neighborhoods; Wayne State University; Clear Corps Detroit; City of Detroit Buildings, Safety Engineering and Environmental Department (BSEED); and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS).

“When a small child gets lead dust or paint chips on their hands, they may put them in their mouth, and that's the primary way they get exposed,” said Denise Fair, Chief Public Health Officer for the City of Detroit. “And when lead paint in the house cracks or peels it can create lead dust. Approximately 90 percent of all elevated blood lead levels results from lead paint dust and surrounding soil in those aging homes.”

To be eligible for the program:

  • Your home or rental property must have been built before 1978.
  • The house must be located in the 48209 ZIP code in one of four contiguous census tracts (5238, 5240, 5241, 5242).
  • Your household income is at or below 80 percent of the area median income.
  • There must be a child 6 years of age or younger, or a pregnant woman in the house at the time of intake, or there is a visiting child 6 years of age or younger at the house for more than 60 hours per year.

For Detroit residents outside of the southwest area, the City of Detroit also runs the Lead Hazard Reduction Program, which utilizes a site-specific lead inspection and risk assessment to determine:

  • The nature and scope of lead hazards in the home.
  • The types of lead hazards controls needed (lead cleanings, interim controls and/or abatement techniques) to eliminate lead-based paints hazards.
  • The conditions that contribute to these hazards.
  • The LHR program remediates lead hazards in eligible single-family homes (one to four units) throughout the City of Detroit.

To apply for the LHR grant, residents can e-mail [email protected] or call 313-224-6380.