‘Waiting process:’ Lead removal contractors shut down by feds could soon be back in Milwaukee homes

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MILWAUKEE -- Still on hold. It's been more than a month since the federal government stopped Milwaukee contractors from removing lead paint from dozens of contaminated homes. Now, city officials say there may be good news for some of those contractors as early as next week.

The Lead Paint Abatement program lets the Milwaukee Health Department use federal grant money to pay local contractors to remove dangerous lead paint from homes, on Friday morning, March 23, contractors wanted to know if they were any closer to going back to work.

For the past month, property owners have been on their own in removing lead paint from their home.

"We have not gotten a clearance from the stop order per se," Health Commissioner Patricia McManus said.

In February,  the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development shut down a grant program allowing the city to pay local contractors to do lead removal.

"Government at the Federal level is out of touch with what is going on here in the city," said contractor Peter Methum.

Methum is one of those contractors attending a Friday meeting with the health department.

"It looks like we will be able to at least, case by case, be able to send in information. They will look at it and then they will release houses one by one until we get all the other stuff in," McManus said.

According to McManus, the stoppage is still in place but there's a chance a few contractors could resume work next week.

"We need to get these addresses. Folks right now that have kids in there who are potentially at risk or have been identified, they go to the top of the list," McManus said. "We want to do that and we want to get those done right away."

Even if the Department of Housing and Urban Development can approve a short list of homes, some contractors are more optimist than others.

"It's been six weeks without any projects coming out," Dan Medina said. "I'm just hoping everything is approved as soon as possible but I don't think that's going to happen for quite a while."

"We're doing it by the book and it's just a waiting process right now, but it's looking good," Felix Questell said.

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