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Breaking down the Hennepin County lead removal program: 6 key takeaways

Since its start in 2004, Hennepin County’s lead removal program has been helping homeowners make their homes safer and their kids healthier. Plus, thanks to the energy-efficient windows that are often installed, the program helps lower your heating bills.

Zoua Pha, a senior housing analyst with Hennepin County, recently chatted with to broke down the most important parts of the program.

  • The program’s focus is on kids. That’s why it zeroes in on homes where children under the age of 6 live or visit. Lead poses the greatest risk to small children who are still growing and whose brains are still developing. Their fingers touch lots of surfaces, and lead dust easily ends up in their systems. Lead exposure puts kids at risk for brain and nervous system damage, stunted growth, and learning and behavior problems.

  • It’s easy to see if your older homes or apartment is old enough for the program.  To qualify for the program, your home or rental property must have been built before 1978. That’s the year the federal government outlawed the use of lead in paint. If you’re not sure of the age of your place, go to Hennepin County property tax website, and type in your address. “It will tell you when your house was built,” said Pha. “That’s the first thing that you want to look at if you don’t know when your house was built.

  • One of the biggest sources of lead paint in older homes is in the windows. It’s common for people who enroll in the program to receive new, energy-efficient windows. Old windows with flaking paint are a problem, and not just because of the visible paint flakes. “Lead dust is created from friction of these windows going up and down,” said Pha. “Lead dust is everywhere. You don’t see it. Now here you are touching it, inhaling it, digesting it into your body.”

  • Homeowners and renters need to qualify for the program. For example, a family of four can’t earn more than $94,000 per year. Pha urges people to fill out an online intake form, even if they’re worried they might not qualify. “There is an income qualification for this, but at the same time, if you’re worried about it, that’s what we’re here for. We’re here to help you find the lead paint and remove the lead hazard from your home.”

  • The program has a long legacy and a bright future. Funded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Hennepin County lead program has been in existence since 2004. Pha said, “We have worked on over 2,000 homes facing these hazards, and the good news is we were funded again last year for another $6 million for the next five years, so we have money that we can help you.”

  • The best part of all--the program offers grants of up to $15K. “One of the great things is that every home where we do find lead, there is that grant. There is free money up to $15,000 to help fix these lead hazards.”

For more information on the Hennepin County Lead Removal Program and to see if you qualify, go to and click on, “Funding assistance for lead paint hazards.”


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