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More money for the program might be available in coming years. On July 26, the California Supreme Court ruled in favor of allowing counties and cities throughout the state to hire private law firms to represent them on a contingency basis in a multibillion-dollar class-action lawsuit. The long-running suit, originally filed in 2000 at the Superior Court of Santa Clara, asks that makers of lead-based paint, such as Sherwin-Williams and Atlantic Richfield (which includes the former Anaconda Lead Products and International Smelting and Refining companies), pay for removing lead paint from buildings.

According to Nancy Fineman, attorney for Cotchett, Pitre, and McCarthy, the private law firm representing San Diego and other cities, the ruling will likely be appealed and the lead-paint lawsuit may take many more years to litigate.

In the meantime, as the City expands the Lead Safe Neighborhoods Program, more property owners will be notified. For low-income families and the elderly on fixed incomes such as Howard, the only way to remediate the lead hazards and comply with city code is to contact the San Diego Housing Commission and apply for federal grants, loans, and redevelopment money.

Frank Ballow, rehab manager for the San Diego Housing Commission, estimates that since 2002, the housing commission has received $15.9 million in lead grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The most recent grants, awarded in 2008 and totaling $7 million, include goals of eliminating lead hazards in over 500 residential units over a three-year period.

“The lead grants offer up to $10,000 for a single family dwelling and up to $5000 per multifamily unit plus $5000 for common areas in multifamily properties for material and labor costs of lead remediation,” explains Ballow in an August 4 email.

Typically, owner-occupied properties are also eligible for deferred-payment loans to cover lead or other rehabilitation costs. However, as in Howard’s case, if lead hazards require more than $10,000 to correct and owner-occupants do not qualify for loans, a Special Circumstance Committee may authorize exceeding the $10,000 cap.

As Howard walks around the outside of his house, he rattles off the work that will be done. He points to the rotted roof, the deteriorated fascia, and the eaves that will be replaced. The back of the house will get a new vinyl window and frame.

Inside, he looks up at water stains on the ceiling and missing plaster and points to black spots of mold scattered across the walls. Workers will repair the damage and install new countertops and a new water heater.

But before work can begin, the clutter has to be moved. Howard’s so worried that he won’t be able to move his belongings out in time that he doesn’t seem concerned about the adverse health impacts from exposure to lead.

“Have I thought about getting tested for lead paint in my body? I’ve thought of it, sure,” he says. “But a lot of [my] symptoms are from old age. I don’t think I have lead poisoning, but I don’t know. I have other things to do in the next month, like try to find people willing to help move my belongings. I guess I am curious but won’t know until I get through this month. I’m looking for that pot of gold at the end of this stinking rainbow.”

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Comments

ZipWall Sept. 2, 2010 @ 11:56 a.m.

Great story. Reads like a movie. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also now requires landlords and sellers of pre-1978 houses to notify their tenants or buyers of known lead paint in the house and give a pamphlet “Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home.” Under this regulation, contractors who received payment for their work must follow lead-safe work practices. If you live in an older house, visit the EPA’s website http://www.epa.gov/lead/ to learn more about lead hazards. In addition, you can read about the new regulation and lead-safe work practices at http://www.zipwall.com/epa.php.

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Evelyn Sept. 2, 2010 @ 1:42 p.m.

So, when's Howard's deadline to move the clutter?

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Dorian Hargrove Sept. 2, 2010 @ 2:06 p.m.

ZipWall, thanks for the comment and the information. And Blueevey, the deadline is in a few weeks.

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Founder Sept. 2, 2010 @ 2:19 p.m.

If this person lives in North Park, he might also qualify for a 10 year Forgivable loan from the NP-PAC (Project Area Comm.) HELP program; I suggest that he call Mr. Michael Lengyel, NP PAC Project Manager at (619) 236-6269 to see if he qualifies... It's about time that our Seniors get some benefits from the City they help build.

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Evelyn Sept. 2, 2010 @ 3:46 p.m.

the problem isn't the financing, or so it seems, founder. it's the getting ready to have the work done.

this man needs people. I have 2 hands and a set of feet and willing. anyone else willing to help?

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Founder Sept. 3, 2010 @ 7:26 p.m.

Maybe some one will look into getting him a "pod" (temporary storage) so he can easily move his stuff into it and then have it replaced..

If he needs help movering, then contact Pamela at "Rebuilding Together", she knows how to make miracles happen! (619) 231-7873 or www.RebuildingTogetherSD.org

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