Lead paint continues to pose a considerable challenge to cities

KALAMAZOO, Mich., Aug. 6, 2021 — Yesterday, state Rep. Julie Rogers (D-Kalamazoo) held a town hall concerning lead abatement and various other community resources. She was joined by state Rep. Rachel Hood (D-Grand Rapids) and a panel of local community and state experts: Matt Milcarek from the Kalamazoo Neighborhood Housing Services Inc.; Dr. Carolyn Whatley, chief medical officer at Family Health Center; Dr. Kathy Jackson, a longtime pediatrician at Family Health Center; James Baker, director of the Public Services Department and city engineer for the city of Kalamazoo; and Carin Speidel from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Lead Services Section.

“As a practicing physical therapist, I have unfortunately seen the devastating effects of lead exposure firsthand, and it’s heartbreaking,” Rogers said. “Like Flint, we are finding a number of children in Kalamazoo who have lead levels in their blood that can impact their brain development. The main cause in Kalamazoo is our old housing stock which often has lead-based paint. We need a multifaceted approach to this issue that starts with both education and meaningful action. Sitting idly by while a generation of kids continues to be poisoned in their own homes is, quite frankly, criminal.”

Lead was often added to paint used in homes built before 1978. In 1978, the federal government banned the use of lead-based paint in homes. The older the home, the more likely it is to have lead-based paint. Lead abatement assistance is available at Kalamazoo Neighborhood Housing in partnership with the city of Kalamazoo if you meet the following criteria:

  •     Live in the city of Kalamazoo.
  •     Own or occupy a home built before 1978.
  •     Complete an eligibility application.
  •     Are current on property taxes or are currently in repayment programs per county agreement.
  •     Pass initial housing visual inspection (i.e. provide access to all rooms, walls and windows in the        home).
  •     Maintain ownership for a minimum of three years after work completion.


“Gov. Whitmer’s proposed $10 million for the Lead Poisoning Prevention Fund, and our efforts in our community are only the beginning if we want lasting change,” Rogers said. “While we’ve ramped up our awareness efforts considerably, it’s time to provide additional funding. We need to maintain a sustained, concerted effort toward lead abatement in our community, and my colleagues and I won’t rest until all of our children are safe from lead poisoning.”

Rep. Rogers also extends her sincere appreciation to the following groups and organizations who tabled at the town hall and provided attendees with valuable resources and information: the Kalamazoo Regional Educational Service Agency — Head Start; the city of Kalamazoo; Kalamazoo Neighborhood Housing Services ; the Metropolitan Kalamazoo Branch of the NAACP; the Kalamazoo County Department of Health and Human Services, Forensic Fluids Laboratories; Community Homeworks; and the 60th District Service Office of state Rep. Julie M. Rogers.