The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is giving four Iowa cities nearly $13 million in grants to deal with potentially dangerous lead-based paint and other health and safety hazards.

The city of Dubuque won $3.6 million, Sioux City won a total of $4.1 million, Marshalltown nearly $3.5 million and Council Bluffs $2.3 million. Dubuque Housing & Community Development Director, Alexis Steger, says the bulk of their grant goes to handling lead paint. “This continues a program that we have going now. We will do another 120 units — and that will be for the lead side of three million — and then there’s a 500,000 additional healthy homes grant,” Steger says. The healthy homes grants provide help in handling issues other than lead paint to make homes healthier.

Steger says Dubuque has been working on the lead paint issue since 1992. “The housing stock in Dubuque was in the era that lead paint was often used — so that lead paint can now be flaking, the siding can have that lead, it can be inside the home. The windows are often needing to be replaced because of the lead inside the windows as well,” Steger says. She says taking care of the lead in the homes can be very expensive.

“It depends on the deterioration and how much lead is in the home. And it also depends if the home is historic,” she says. “But it can be remediated just scraping the paint and then you have to do another paint coat over that. There’s standards for scraping and painting.”

Steger says they’ve gotten grants almost every year since they began the program, and the grant total is little more than $16.6 million. “What has been happening is as we end one grant, we have so much more need that people are applying and we don’t have enough money from the grant to get to their home,” according to Steger. “So they end up in kind of a waiting period until we get another grant — and so we start with those applicants that were trying to apply for the previous grant.”

The program has gone on so long, that there are some homes that need a follow up. “Lead remediation can mean that a home may need us to come back and visit it in another 40 years. So, we do see some of those things happen where remediation is just sealing the lead in place and making sure it is not a hazard. But that can deteriorate if it is not maintained, so we do see some of those as well, but not as often.” Steger says they probably have enough homes with lead issues to continue getting grants for another 10 years.