The State of Michigan announced in November that it had received a Medicaid waiver allowing it to spend nearly $24 million a year for the next five years on fixing lead hazards in homes. To be eligible, homes must be occupied by a Medicaid enrolled child with an elevated blood lead level. However, dollars can be used for primary prevention in the City of Flint and in other "target communities" yet to be identified by the State. Get the Lead Out! partners in Grand Rapids are working to bring those dollars to Kent County.
Since the announcement, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has begun deploying these dollars by fixing homes in Flint and in southeast Michigan. To reach the rest of state, MDHHS is designing a Request for Proposal process to work with regional sub-contractors for delivering services. Locally, the City of Grand Rapids and Kent County have begun working with the Healthy Homes Coalition and the Kent County Health Department to build a proposal for all of Kent County.
While local partners were hoping to put these new resources on the ground fixing homes in Kent County during the 2017 summer construction season, it appears that dollars will not be available to awarded local partners until October 1 at the earliest. The Kent County team is still waiting for the Request for Proposals to be released.
Kent County is home to ten percent of Michigan's lead poisoned children. Recognizing that the program has $24 million in resources available statewide, it is reasonable to believe that Kent County might attract more than $2 million per year in new resources to fix lead hazards in homes. By comparison, the City of Grand Rapids' HUD-funded Lead Hazard Control program, has a little less than $1 million per year and targets repair for about 50 homes each year. Medicaid resources have the potential to more than triple local efforts to make homes lead-safe.
Get the Lead Out! partners are committed to working collaboratively with the State to reduce the incidence of childhood lead poisoning in Kent County. The team is already working diligently to figure out ways to maximize the impact of these program dollars by blending them with the City's existing lead grant as well as CDBG funds and other local resources. Eager to start, the team is encouraging the State to make the funds available to local partners as soon as possible.