Local organization fixing lead issues for years

Posted at 7:37 PM, Feb 05, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-05 19:37:21-05

Two years ago Nancy Cutlip found out she was living in a house with her grandchildren that was contaminated with lead.

She recalled her emotions at that time.

“It was a nightmare," she said. "I had no funds for nothing extra and I didn’t know where I was going to get help.”

That's where Environmental Health Watch steps in. They're a local non-profit helping to bridge the gap between residents who are in need and the programs that can help them.

“Everything was just going so wrong,” Cutlip said. “But when this program came along, it like saved our lives and I was so thankful and blessed that they helped me.”

Kim Foreman is the executive director of the program called Environmental Health Watch. She explained they often partner with the health department or other community organizations to connect people to what they may need.

“We advocate, but we also provide education to families, and connect families with resources because often times residents are disconnected from resources that could help them, especially when it comes to hazards in the homes.”

Someone like Akbar Tyler, a lead assessor with Environmental Health Watch, goes into the homes, assesses the situation, helps with minor repairs and then reaches out to the right program.

He said, “people really don’t know you know where lead comes from. When you say lead to somebody, they think ‘oh paint chips, my kids don't eat paint chips’ well they’re not getting it directly from the paint chips, but indirectly from the dust.”

But with the city's current funding problems to fight lead,  the money isn't always available to help people.

Tyler said, “we need funding to go into these homes and do an assessment, and so when they don’t get funded it kind of hurts us because we work with them closely.”

With nearly 400 lead poisoned homes in the city from the past two years alone, the organization said they have no time to waste.

“Our hope is that through our work and through our piloting and through our advocacy efforts the city can do work differently and then we can assist more families with the resources that do come in,” Foreman said.