The Decatur Housing Authority just got a $1 million grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD. It will take care of lead based paint problems in public housing.
The money will be used at the Sterrs Homes complex and East Acres complex in Decatur, which has more than 450 apartments combined.
The housing authority voted Thursday night to accept a bid for the project. It came in at $617,000.
The housing authority recently tested public housing units in the city and found lead. It is from older paint, used 20 years ago, that was covered up by other materials.
"It's scary. It's scary," said Erica Cowley, who lives in the Sterrs Homes complex. She doesn't like to think about how the lead can impact the health of everyone living there.
"It can make us sick. Especially with the babies. Them babies don't need that lead in them. I don't need it in me," said Cowley.
The tests by the housing authority are why they applied to get the money from the HUD.
The project will replace paneling inside the units, which covers up walls covered in lead paint, it will replace doors covered in the dangerous paint, and it will also take care of other encapsulating materials used throughout the complexes that cover up lead paint.
Housing authority employees said the materials used the first time stopped being effective after 20 years and it has been 20 years since they were installed.
Cowley likes the housing authority taking the initiative to protect their health, but she wanted a different solution.
"Take that money and build houses and put these folks in there," said Cowley
Work will begin in October and take roughly six months to complete. Families will be moved to empty apartments in the complex while work is going on in their apartment and since the Decatur Housing Authority picked a company who will do the work for just $617,000 the remaining portion of the million dollars they got from the grant will go back to the federal government.
The money for this project would have originally come out of the budget for the housing authority, so instead of spending it on this they will now spend part of the money to make public housing more energy efficient.