For more than a decade, money intended for programs to reduce the risk of lead poisoning in New Jersey has been diverted for other uses. Advocates are renewing efforts to ensure prevention measures are funded.
Over the past 12 years more than $50 million intended for relocation assistance and property rehabilitation in the Lead Hazard Control Assistance Fund has been used for other purposes.
Serena Rice, the executive director of the Anti-Poverty Network of New Jersey, said she had no problem buying a home that was tested to be lead-free, but some people can’t afford that. “When I explained to my son about how some kids get sick because of the dust in their homes and when they leave the hospital they have to go back to that same home and get poisoned again, his response summed it up perfectly. He said mommy that’s just wrong,” Rice said.
Ann Vardeman with New Jersey Citizen Action said advocates are launching the Lead Free Kids Campaign to ensure Governor Chris Christie puts money in the budget for lead prevention programs. “Our goal is to send the governor 3100 painted handprints to represent every child who was needlessly poisoned by lead last year. Governor Christie has the opportunity to right this wrong,” said Vardeman.