As Deadlines Loom, 106 Families Remain In Lead-Contaminated Homes

Feb 28, 2017

Wednesday, March 1, is the deadline for residents of a lead-contaminated East Chicago, Indiana, housing complex to renew their federal housing vouchers.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD, gave out the Section 8 vouchers late last year to help residents find new homes.

As of this month, HUD says 106 families still live in West Calumet Housing Complex, and 91 of those have not yet found a new place to live – including Keesha Daniels and her sons.

They’ve had no luck apartment-hunting around northwest Indiana since last year, when they learned they’d have to move due to the contamination. After that, crews from the Environmental Protection Agency came to clean up lead and arsenic dust inside their home.

“We’ve been living out of boxes since September, just because I’m still scared about taking anything out,” Daniels says.

She got an extension for her housing voucher on Tuesday. HUD and the East Chicago Housing Authority are required to offer those under a federal fair housing settlement inked in November.

On Wednesday, HUD plans to take stock of whether the city can move remaining families to temporary housing and close West Calumet by March 31.

It is part of an EPA Superfund site and has been slated for demolition for months, though that plan also still needs HUD approval.