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Lead abatement a budget priority for South Bend

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — The battle to lessen the impact of lead contamination in South Bend continues.

Wednesday, Mayor Pete Buttigieg committed city funds in the 2018 budget to combatting the problem.

And now community leaders would like to see other organizations join the fight.

“It impacts the youth, it impacts adults, it impacts the workforce, and it impacts everyone in this community, so it’s going to take everyone in the community to address it,” said Karl Nichols, ‎executive director of Community Wellness Partners.

Community concerns continue to grow.

To neighbors, the longstanding lead problem in the city just doesn’t seem to be going away.

“I’ve been concerned with it personally so I did get my home tested,” said neighbor Wesley Butler. “Most of the people in the city are concerned and it seems that the people who need the most help in that area don’t get it.”

It’s a dilemma the county has been proactive in handling.

But community leaders say it could use some help.

“Right now the county health department has one fulltime staff person to oversee lead issues in the entire county,” said Nichols.

That’s not nearly enough according to Community Wellness Partners.

The organization has been raising awareness for the issue just like the folks at the Near Northwest Neighborhood Association.

For months, the NNN has offered everything from water quality kits to blood testing opportunities at community events.

South Bend has also made stride to keep your homes safe.

And Wednesday, the mayor announced the city will be doing even more.

Mayor Buttigieg committed $300,000to expanding lead abatement in the 2018 budget.

A representative from the city says that would top the South Bend Home Improvement Fund with an extra $100,000 next year.

Under the program, the city assists in home repairs related to lead paint and other issues.

Residents can apply and receive up to $25,000 in aid based on need.

Local leaders say that’s helpful, but they would like to see more synergy when tackling this issue.

“The resources are out there, we just need to work together to bring all the parties together to combine our resources and not just be in silos,” said Nichols.

 

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