Samantha DePoy-Warren, DEP Director of Communications & Education, firstname.lastname@example.org / (207) 592-0427 or Deborah Turcotte, Maine State Housing Authority Public Information Manager, email@example.com / (207) 626-4617
-A lead-safe search feature is added to the popular Maine State Housing Authority and Maine Department of Health and Human Services statewide housing registry at mainehousingsearch.org and already 900 lead-safe rentals are listed-
AUGUSTA – As National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week begins, Maine’s renters now can search for healthy homes through a lead-safe property search feature that goes live today on the state’s leading online housing website, www.MaineHousingSearch.org.
The Maine Department of Environmental Protection’s lead-safety level addition to the site gives renters the ability to find lead-based paint free, safe and maintained property listings.
MaineHousingSearch.org is a free service for renters and landlords that was launched in 2009 by the Maine State Housing Authority and the Maine Department of Health and Human Services to provide a one-stop source to share and search for rental properties statewide.
The registry added a smoke-free housing search option in 2011 with support from the Smoke-Free Housing Coalition of Maine. Other features to focus a search include location, cost, handicap accessibility, distances to local services and security.
The new lead-safety status search option was developed by DEP and MaineHousing with support from the Lead Poisoning Prevention Fund, managed by the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and made available to landlords in September. As the site goes to live to renters today, already around 900 properties have been listed with one of the three lead statuses, most of which are currently vacant.
“This registry recognizes landlords who have taken the right steps to provide healthy housing and helps those committed to keeping their families safe find the information to do so easily,” said DEP Commissioner Patricia Aho. “The result is healthier bottom lines for landlords and healthier renters.”
The addition of the lead-safety status was welcomed by MaineHousing, which actively promoted the service to its vast network of landlords.
“For almost four years, MaineHousing has made it easier for landlords and tenants to connect through the MaineHousingSearch.org website,” said MaineHousing Director John Gallagher. “With our partners at DHHS, Smoke-Free Housing Coalition and now DEP, prospective renters can be assured that if they want safe, healthy housing, they can find it through landlords who share our commitment to their well-being.”
DEP evaluates each property before it is posted to ensure it is either free of lead paint, maintained using best practices for lead hazard prevention or inspected by a licensed lead professional.
The feature will make it easier for Mainers to protect themselves and their families from the harms of lead-based paint, prevalent in properties built before 1978. Maine has one of the nation’s oldest housing stocks, and more than 100 children here are poisoned by lead each year, most commonly by the dust from lead-based paint that ends up on the surfaces of what children play on and with.
Children under the age of 6 are most at risk for lead poisoning because they are more likely to put their hands and other objects into their mouths and their brains are developing rapidly. The harmful effects of lead can cause brain and hearing damage, lower intelligence, behavioral problems and learning disabilities.
As part of National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, property owners and families are urged to visit www.maine.gov/healthyhomes to learn more about preventing lead poisoning, testing for lead dust, and how to renovate, repair, paint and do other home projects safely.
“Providing information about lead paint safety in rental units is a great addition to the family of free lead poisoning prevention efforts offered in Maine,” said State Toxicologist Andrew Smith, who oversees the Maine CDC Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program. “Property owners can also take advantage of a free, professional testing service to find out if they have dust from lead paint in their units—and use that information to help meet the requirements to market their listings on the housing registry.” More information on tests for landlords and other related resources can be obtained by calling Maine Healthy Homes and Lead Poisoning Prevention Program Manager Eric Frohmberg at (866) 292-3474.
For more information about MaineHousingSearch.org including to post a property or search for one, visit www.mainehousingsearch.org or call (877) 428-8844 Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.