HUD and the EPA are clearly putting a large focus back on lead based paint. Recently, staff from both agencies in D.C. swung through the Pacific Northwest and conducted lead based paint reviews with several housing authorities. There is a good chance that more housing authorities will be reviewed in the upcoming weeks and months. With this renewed emphasis on lead based paint comes a chance for housing authorities to ensure they are protecting their families and being compliant with HUD and EPA standards. I am not going to get into the nitty gritty of the lead based paint rules but here are some of the high level areas you need to be ready for if your agency is selected for a lead based paint review.
- You need to start simply. Get a list of every building or unit you have built in or before 1978.
- You should be able to produce an assessment of the property. Not just a small sample assessment but a very complete assessment. That means there were likely hundreds of tests samples on a single building. Most likely this happened sometime in the 1990s or 2000-2010 era. The assessment should tell if the building is lead based paint free or if there are areas past the threshold.
- If you do not have these documents, you will need to put a plan in place to get this work done. This will likely involve hiring an outside firm.
- It will make your life easier if you can produce any licenses or certifications that your assessment contractor had. If you are missing these, contact the company and get them on file
- If there are indeed buildings with areas of lead based paint, your agency needs to ensure that you can either prove that the unit or space was.
- Abated and cleared…or
- That you are giving disclosures to your families in that unit at the time of lease up.
- I should mention there are some differences in opinions here. I am going to be really clear that you should talk to the folks at healthy homes and in the field office to get their take. Some housing authorities are putting disclosures in files for building built before 1978 regardless of if the unit had lead based paint or not. Others are saying if the building was clear, there was no need.
- Let me get more in detail on the disclosure. HUD and the EPA want to see one disclosure in general. I am kind enough to link back here but depending on when you read this always check up to make sure it is current. FORM HERE
- You should be able to show that you are using the most current form of the lead based pamphlet. Check the HUD website. If you are using the correct disclosure form linked to above, it has a place for the family to sign off on that they received the lead based pamphlet.
- You should have all staff including inspectors take the visual assessment certification on the HUD website. In addition, any maintenance staff working with paint in anyway should have lead based paint certification so we know they understand safe work practices.
- If you have units that were not abated and still have lead based paint, you need to show that you are inspecting them every single year and completing healthy work practices to contain the lead. Again, this is not optional. Ask the New York Housing Authority if this can become a problem.
- Once the folks from the lead based office and the EPA determine their selection of units they will look for the items I mentioned above. If you can prove the unit was abated/cleared, no worries. You might need to show the safe work practices used and notices given to residents but that really depends on how much time the HUD/EPA staff have.
- If you cannot, they will want to see your lease, the disclosure, and any other lead based paint forms in the file.
- They will want to see how you are working with your county or governmental health department to receive notification of any elevated blood levels of children within your portfolio. Remember to read the most recent lead based paint rule. The numbers for what constitutes an elevated blood level is smaller than before to align with the EPA. (Quick tip: Work out a partnership with your health department where you are sending a spreadsheet with units that have children under 6 years old. The spreadsheet should have zero personally identifying information within it. The county then can come back to you and let you know if there are any matches.)
If you are missing assessments, certifications or disclosures, go ahead and get a plan in place to start addressing these issues. This blog is not meant to substitute for gaining a full understanding of the regulations and rules. It is important your agency has some lead based gurus in house regardless of your size. It is also important that you know where your paperwork is and that it is stored in an easy to access manner.