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FANNIE MAE FOUNDATION FINANCES NEW NATIONAL CENTER FOR LEAD-SAFE HOUSING

 FANNIE MAE FOUNDATION FINANCES NEW NATIONAL CENTER
 FOR LEAD-SAFE HOUSING
 WASHINGTON, Sept. 21 /PRNewswire/ -- The Foundation of Fannie Mae (Federal National Mortgage Association) today announced a $5.5 million grant to finance a new National Center for Lead-Safe Housing. The grant is the largest single grant ever made by the Fannie Mae Foundation.
 The Center, also announced today, was jointly established by the Enterprise Foundation and the Alliance To End Childhood Lead Poisoning. The largest privately funded effort in the country devoted to lead poisoning, the National Center will develop, test, and promote the nationwide adoption of cost-effective strategies for preventing childhood lead poisoning.
 "Lead poisoning seriously threatens the health of as many as 3 million of America's children and the nation's supply of affordable housing in which they live. Our children's future is too important and affordable housing is too scarce to let this problem continue," said James A. Johnson, Fannie Mae's chairman and chief executive officer.
 "While it is becoming better understood how serious a health hazard lead poisoning poses to our nation, only now is it becoming understood how serious the threat is to the nation's affordable housing stock," Johnson said.
 "As many as 5 million lead-contaminated housing units occupied by lower income families are affected. So, in millions of cases, the threat to health and the threat to housing are linked. It is critical that as we address the children's health issue, we do so in a way that also preserves and improves the supply, quality, and safety of affordable housing.
 "In its search for the best practical answers to these problems, the National Center for Lead-Safe Housing will reach out to both the health and housing sectors. The Center will generate both information and ideas, and it will build alliances while serving as an instrument for promoting sound public policy," Johnson said.
 "The Center's ultimate goal is prevention. The approach of waiting to find a poisoned child and then removing all lead paint is futile. Instead, we need to make millions of homes 'lead safe' for our children and their families," said Don Ryan, a co-founder and executive director of the Alliance to End Childhood Lead Poisoning.
 "The work of the new center will be vital to reducing current hazards and offering a real alternative to 'all-or-nothing' solutions that usually mean nothing gets done to help the millions of children now at risk," Ryan said.
 "This Fannie Mae Foundation grant therefore truly marks a turning point: the first commitment from a major player in the world of housing and the first joint venture between advocates for environmental health and affordable housing," Ryan said.
 Paul Brophy, president of the new center and vice chair of the Enterprise Foundation, noted that lead poisoning falls unfairly on the shoulders of minorities and the poor, particularly on African- American and Hispanic children living in inner cities.
 "In August of 1993, the center will begin working closely with four to six 'leadership cities' to test cost-effective strategies to make homes 'lead safe' that can be implemented on a broad scale. The center also will help 10-12 cities increase the effectiveness of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) abatement grants that will be announced this fall," Brophy said.
 Brophy said the center, located in Columbia, Md., also will:
 -- Recommend model legislation and regulations for use by states and cities to reduce lead paint hazards and develop ways to finance lead hazard reduction.
 -- Work with the insurance industry to find ways to provide liability insurance for property owners and contractors who meet established standards.
 -- Provide technical assistance to state and local governments undertaking lead poisoning programs and, if needed, limited funding to fill critical gaps and link programs more effectively.
 -- Conduct research and evaluation studies on technical aspects of lead abatement.
 An advisory committee comprised of leading technical experts will ensure the balance and quality of the Center's work.
 The Fannie Mae Foundation grant was made possible earlier this year when former Fannie Mae Chairman David O. Maxwell relinquished the final payment due him under his employment contract with the company. In January, Fannie Mae Chairman Johnson announced that the entire sum would be donated by the company to the Fannie Mae Foundation.
 The Enterprise Foundation is a national, non-profit charitable organization that helps nonprofit neighborhood groups develop affordable housing for low-income families and individuals. Its mission is to see that all poor people in the United States have the opportunity for fit and affordable housing within a generation and to move up and out of poverty into the mainstream of life.
 The Alliance To End Childhood Lead Poisoning is a non-profit public interest organization that has helped put the epidemic of childhood lead poisoning on the national agenda through education, advocacy, legislative, and policy support.
 The primary goal of the Fannie Mae Foundation is to support national and local nonprofit organizations that work to provide decent and affordable housing in communities throughout the United States. The foundation also funds education, health, and human development programs that enhance individual potential with a special concern for youth. In addition to this $5.5 million grant, the Fannie Mae Foundation is making additional grants of $6 million in 1992. Its sole source of support is Fannie Mae.
 Fannie Mae, the USA's Housing Partner, is a congressionally chartered, shareholder-owned company and the nation's largest investor in home mortgages.
 CHILDHOOD LEAD POISONING AND AFFORDABLE HOUSING: AN OVERVIEW
 Health Effects
 -- In 1991, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) declared lead poisoning the "number one environmental health hazard to American children and our most societally devastating disease."
 -- A powerful neurotoxin, lead poisoning at high levels causes coma, convulsions and death. Because lead interferes with the development of the brain and nervous system, young children are at highest risk.
 -- Even low levels of lead poisoning may cause IQ reduction, reading and learning disabilities, decreased attention span, hyperactivity and behavior problems. The effects of childhood exposure may be irreversible.
 Source of the Problem
 -- Lead is transmitted from a variety of sources, including dust, soil, drinking water, food, air and occupational exposures. But experts agree that lead-based paint and dust in homes is the source of most intensive exposures.
 -- More than 3/4 of older homes (built before 1978) contain some leaded paint. Lead hazard is most severe in dilapidated older housing. In many ares the prevalence of lead poisoning among low- income, inner-city children is 50 percent, with African-American and Hispanic children more than twice as likely to be poisoned.
 -- Primary means of lead poisoning in children is surface dust released from paint as a result of deterioration, abrasion or disturbance. Home renovation also is a major cause of lead dust.
 -- According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's 1990 report to Congress, approximately 20 million homes contain lead hazards, with a substantial portion rented to low-income families. Full abatement for those houses is rarely economically feasible, resulting in more than 5 million homes at risk of abandonment.
 Reducing Lead-Based Paint Hazards
 -- Lead hazards must be identified and reduced before children are poisoned.
 -- Assessment and abatement of lead-based paint hazards must be undertaken by trained and qualified workers. Federal requirements are now being enacted for training, accreditation and certification programs by the EPA.
 -- The cost of full abatement is substantial, from $5,500 to $15,000 per unit. Emphasis is shifting from sole reliance on the concentration of lead in painted surfaces to other measures, including amounts of lead in surface dust. Title X of the National Affordable Housing Act establishes a new, more workable method for lead hazard reduction.
 -- Landlords may be inclined to ignore lead hazards and some insurance companies are refusing to provide coverage because of confusion over what interventions, other than full abatement, are protective and acceptable.
 -- Loss of insurance, confusion over standards of care, threat of liability and increased litigation pose serious dangers to millions of affordable housing units.
 -0- 9/21/92
 /CONTACT: Gene Eisman of Fannie Mae, 202-752-6673; Beverly Lofton of the Enterprise Foundation, 410-715-2244; or Melinda Patrician of the Alliance to End Childhood Lead Poisoning, 703-824-1765/
 (FNM) CO: The Fannie Mae Foundation; The Enterprise Foundation; The
 Alliance to End Childhood Lead Poisoning ST: District of Columbia IN: FIN HEA SU:


MH -- DC006 -- 1566 09/21/92 10:14 EDT
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