WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Getting the Lead Out in Galesburg

Feb 17, 2020

Housing Program Coordinator Judy Guenseth said Galesburg received grant funding last fall to remove lead paint from up to 200 homes. But only 20 people have applied for the program, so the city is trying again to get out the word.

“There is no cost to the owner. There is no cost to the landlords. There is no cost to the renter. This is grant funds. They want to get the lead out of these units,” said Guenseth.

She said 80% of the housing in Galesburg was built before 1978, which is when lead paint was banned. The city is encouraging landlords and others who own or live in a pre-1978 home in Galesburg to learn more about the remediation program by attending an informational meeting on Wednesday, February 19, 5:30 p.m. at City Hall.

Guenseth called lead paint remediation a top need in the community.

“There is no safe level of lead in the blood,” said Guenseth.  “It’s harmful to anybody but it’s especially harmful to young children who are developing and it is a hazard to women who are pregnant.”

The city received the state grant through the Help Eliminate Lead Program (HELP). The state got the money from the federal Housing and Urban Development (HUD) agency.

Guenseth said lead remediation is expensive, which is why the grant funding should prove beneficial.

There are a few limits on who’s eligible. A family of four can have an income of no more than $53,050.  Apartment complexes can have no more than four units. 

Guesnseth said workers will test homes and find a way to remove or encapsulate the lead where it is present.

“We’re trying to do as much as we can to make Galesburg and the housing here a safe place for children and families,” she said.