- Associated Press - Monday, June 16, 2014

NATCHEZ, Miss. (AP) - Four Mississippi cities and the Mississippi State Department of Health are applying for a grant to make homes safer for children.

The Natchez Democrat reports (http://bit.ly/1qUjClf) Natchez, Jackson, Greenwood and Greenville are applying for the funding provided through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Health Department spokeswoman Liz Sharlot says the grant is worth $3 million over three years and is expected to finance the removal of lead paint from 430 houses.

The grant application will be submitted to HUD June 27, and Sharlot said the Health Department should get a decision by the end of August. If funded, the projects will begin after Sept. 1.

The cities are targeted for the Health Department’s lead-poisoning prevent program because of the number of pre-1978 houses, which are more likely to have lead-based paint, and the dangers of lead poisoning to children in the area.

“In those areas that are targeted, children have higher lead blood levels,” Sharlot said.

Natchez Community Development Director James Johnston said the city should receive about $650,000 for work on 100 homes.

If the grant is awarded, Johnston said the Health Department will work with the city to identify houses for the funding.

The grant requires a 15 percent match, which Johnston said will be met by in-kind work by the city’s planning and inspections departments.

If the grant is awarded, Johnston said the city will conduct lead and environmental assessments using guidelines from HUD’s Office of Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control.

___

Information from: The Natchez Democrat, http://www.natchezdemocrat.com/