By Christopher Walker The Department of Housing and Urban Development announced distribution of more than $67 million in grants to local lead safety programs across the country last October. According to a HUD press release, $59 million of the grant money will be used "to remove lead hazards from approximately 7,000 privately owned homes in 16 states." The other $8 million is for education and research.

"We're always looking for good contractors," says Tina Koumoutsos, housing program coordinator for the City of Springfield (Ohio). The Lead-Safe Springfield program she heads is typical among grant recipients. The program will use the money to complete lead abatement or lead dust hazard reduction in 333 privately owned, at-risk homes by the summer of 2004. "Right now we have about 20 contractors," Koumoutsos says. Lead-Safe Springfield screened candidates from a list of contractors certified by the state to work with lead hazards. "We also recruited local contractors who we knew did good work and paid for their training to be certified."

A HUD spokesperson said the Department is working to identify and help localities experiencing a shortage of lead-trained contractors. For more information on the grant and the 23 programs receiving funding, visit