Ohio Prioritizes Lead Abatement Initiatives

2019 has seen a number of important program innovations undertaken by the state to mitigate lead contamination in housing across the state. While programs have been available in the past, and a number of cities have undertaken their own policies, the state is now stepping-up with a number of new initiatives that seek to eliminate lead contamination in homes built prior to 1978.

A $10 million program designed to prevent lead poisoning in children won federal approval this week, allowing Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) funding to be used in more ways to abate lead hazards. The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) approved Ohio's plan to use $5 million per fiscal year in CHIP funding for lead hazard control in more flexible and expansive ways.

Under the newly approved plan, the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) and Ohio Department of Medicaid (ODM) can provide funding for houses where Medicaid-eligible children and pregnant women live. This new program allows the use of program funding for workforce development, including hiring and training environmental case managers and community health workers to provide support and outreach.

In addition, the newly approved program allows projects in other residential properties beyond the primary residences of eligible children and pregnant women, such as grandparents' or other relatives' houses or residences used for licensed child care. It also allows more flexibility in the use of program funding for primary prevention activities, including to abate a wider range of properties in target areas of the state and to buy supplies that are shown to reduce the presence of lead hazards, such as HEPA vacuums and water filters.

This new program is in addition to a recently approved non-refundable income tax credits for Ohioans to help eliminate lead hazards in homes built before 1978. $5 million per year ($10 million over the next two years) will be available for property owners to claim. Credits are limited to a maximum $10,000 per taxpayer (if the cost of eliminating lead from a property is $6,000, then an individual can claim a credit for that amount; if the cost of eliminating lead from a property is $12,000, then an individual can claim the max amount of $10,000). These credits will be available beginning with the 2020 taxable year (income taxes filed in calendar year 2021).