The Meramec Regional Planning Commission (MRPC) recently received funding from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to address child lead poisoning in the Meramec area. During the June 9th MRPC board meeting, Patrick Stites, MRPC environmental specialist and project manager for this program, shared program details with the board on how local residents can apply for the program, which offers up to $15,000 in clean-up funds.
“After a lot of effort, we’re just excited to get the program off the ground,” Stites said. “According to a study by Boston Children’s Hospital and Quest Diagnostics, published in September 2021 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, children in Missouri had a detectable level of lead in their blood at 82 percent, which is among the highest in the country, much higher than the national average of 50 percent. This really shows the need for this type of program.”
The project, which aims to serve low-income housing (owners or rentals) in the eight-county region, has committed to completing 60 lead-based paint renovation projects by the end of the grant in 2025. To qualify for the program,
• The home had to be built before 1978;
• Residency must be in one of the eight counties of the Meramec Region (Crawford, Dent, Gasconade, Maries, Osage, Phelps, Pulaski, or Washington);
• The home must be occupied by a child under the age of six or an expectant mother must live there or visit them regularly; and
• Residents must be classified as low-income by HUD standards. Income levels vary by county and can be viewed at www.meramecregion.org/lphc.
“No amount of lead in the body is safe for children,” Stites said. “We are working with local health departments in the area who are already offering blood lead testing for children under the age of six for eligible families. The great thing about our program is that it is intended to be a primary prevention program, which means we want to eliminate lead hazards before lead gets into children. Families do not have to have children with elevated blood lead levels to qualify for the program. However, we will prioritize projects where children with elevated blood lead levels are present to eliminate these threats to the family as quickly as possible.”
For families in qualifying households, MRPC staff conduct lead testing using an XRF device. If lead is found, a remediation plan will be developed to address the problems. Refurbishment work could include replacing windows and doors and removing old paint and repainting some surfaces, with up to $15,000 worth of refurbishment work to complete. All work is performed by licensed inspectors and licensed contractors. For more information or to find out if your family qualifies, please visit www.meramecregion.org/lphc/ or contact Stites at 573-265-2993 ext. 135 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The application is available online and can also be found in the area’s health departments, libraries, city halls and courthouses. For a complete list of paper application locations, visit www.meramecregion.org/lphc.
In other areas, the MRPC Board has:
• Acted on the recommendation of the Meramec Region Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC) to approve the FY2023 Transportation Work Plan as submitted to the MoDOT. This plan outlines the scope of work to be undertaken by MRPC, its TAC and staff, including prioritizing transportation needs in the state system;
• Approved the appointment of John Money of the Phelps Health Foundation as General Health Officer on the Board. He replaces Dave Selzer, who retired. The Board is now seeking nominations for for-profit representatives in Crawford and Washington Counties;
• Approved the budget for fiscal year 22/23 with income of $3.672 million and expenses of $3.659 million and a surplus of $13,419;
• I have heard an update that the MRPC Annual Dinner and Volunteer Awards Banquet will be held in Maries County at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Vienna on October 13th. Tickets will be $35; and
• I learned that there are two positions open – one for Crawford County and one for the Meramec Regional Community Foundation generally.
Established in 1969, MRPC is a voluntary governing council serving Crawford, Dent, Gasconade, Maries, Osage, Phelps, Pulaski and Washington counties and their respective cities. Chairman of the Board is Steve Vogt representing the City of Belle. A 36-strong professional staff provides member communities with technical support and services such as: