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New grant allowing Lead Safe Roanoke to offer more free home upgrades

The program helps rid older homes of dangerous lead paint hazards.

ROANOKE, Va. – Roanoke city is looking to upgrade more than a hundred homes for free to eliminate the health hazards posed by lead contamination. 

Lead Safe Roanoke is celebrating its new $2.7 million grant with a little old-fashioned TLC--millions of dollars to protect little mouths from toxins.

"It's definitely historic. It's the largest one we've had, so we know we're going to be able to help more families and children in the area and make sure they're not sick and they're healthy," said Marla Robertson, with Lead Safe Roanoke. 

For the past few years, Lead Safe has been in and out of Roanoke city homes repainting, replacing windows, doing everything it takes to make sure children are safe.

"Lead paint is a toxin. It's devastating for a child to get sick and once they do get sick, it's irreversible. It doesn't go in reverse," said Robertson. 

Lead Safe allows families to apply for a project in their own home. During the construction phase, the family is relocated. Then five to 10 days later, homeowners like Jesse Phillips, who has two children, are back in a much healthier home.

"Everybody wants what's best for their kids, so being aware that it is an issue made me more concerned. Then after it was all addressed, it was such a relief," said Phillips. 

Robertson says there is still plenty of work to be done here. In fact, almost 90 percent of homes in Roanoke have some amount of lead paint.

"There are so many homes that need help, we could be doing this for another 20 years. That's just how many homes here in the city that need a little love, that need to make sure they're safe from lead hazards," said Robertson. 

But knowing children have a safe place to play and call home makes all the hard work worth it.

"Knowing that the family is going to be healthy because we were here, the worry on that family and the burden is lifted. It's a great experience," said Robertson. 

To learn more about Lead Safe or to apply, click here