Rocky Mount Integrated Rehabilitation Loan and Preventative Maintenance Program

In November 2000, the City of Rocky Mount’s (North Carolina) Planning Department developed a program to link rehabilitation activities supported with Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds with the PMP. The program integrates both the new U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD’s) requirements for lead-based paint activities (24 CFR Part 35) and the PMP standards into rehabilitation actions in residential properties built before 1978.

The HUD required lead-precautions during rehabilitation are listed below and the additional activities required under the PMP are distinguished in italics. Figure 1 provides a schematic description of the program.

  1. Once a unit is selected for CDBG funding, the owner must determine or assume if the paint is lead-based. Only a certified lead inspector or risk assessor can determine the absence of lead-based paint.
  2. The City of Rocky Mount’s Planning Department approves a scope of work to comply with HUD requirements and the PMP. Supplemental PMP actions not required by HUD or the city typically include making all horizontal surfaces smooth and cleanable (e.g., replacing worn vinyl flooring; installing trough liners).
  3. Solicit bids from contractors. If the work is equal to or less than $25,000 (not including lead costs), contractors must meet HUD training requirements for interim controls (i.e., supervisor is a certified lead supervisor or all workers have completed HUD-approved training in lead-safe work practices). HUD approved a North Carolina course developed by Craven County. The PMP coordinator offers the HUD-approved North Carolina training at no cost. If the lead work is greater than $25,000 (not including lead costs), the contractor must be a certified lead abatement contractor (i.e., certified supervisor and workers).
  4. In all jobs, the contractors must follow lead-safe work practices defined in 24 CFR Part 35 and the PMP.
  5. The unit must pass clearance testing (i.e., visual assessment for dust and debris in the work area and environmental testing to document that dust lead loadings are below HUD standards – 40 micrograms per square foot (μg/sf²) for floors, 250 μg/sf² for windowsills, and 800 μg/sf² for window troughs). A certified lead inspector or risk assessor must conduct clearance. If the unit fails clearance, re-cleaning is required until it passes.
  6. The Edgecombe-Nash PMP coordinator conducts a second clearance examination at no cost to the owner. If the unit fails clearance, the owner/contractor must take the steps needed to meet clearance (e.g., repainting, cleaning lead-contaminated dust).
  7. Once the unit passes the PMP clearance, the owner applies for a PMP Certificate of Compliance. The state coordinator of the PMP reviews the clearance data and may conduct a second PMP clearance audit before issuing a certificate. The certificate is valid for one year.
  8. For every year the unit complies with the PMP monitoring requirements, the City of Rocky Mount will forgive 10% of the CDBG loan. Thus, over a 10-year period the owner could forgive 100% of the original loan. If the unit fails an annual monitoring inspection, the owner is provided an opportunity to rectify the problems and undergo another monitoring examination. (The Edgecombe-Nash PMP coordinator will conduct the annual monitoring no cost to the owner.)
  9. Recipients of CDBG funds are required to attend 8 out of 10 free courses related to building maintenance. One of the required courses focuses on lead-safety issues and the PMP. It is currently the first of the 10 classes.

In summary, the overall program goals are to target CDBG funds to housing with a high risk of lead hazards, spur momentum for the PMP by providing a ready supply of units that already meet the majority of PMP standards, use the PMP to leverage the life expectancy of the CDBG funds by forgiving 10% of the loan funds for each year the unit is documented to remain in compliance, ensure that quality rehabilitation and lead-hazard control work is performed by conducting a second clearance test and annual PMP monitoring inspections, and educate property owners about lead hazards by requiring attendance in a training class.

Program Participation: To date, no units have completed the program. However, two units are nearly at the clearance stage, and nine additional units have applied to the rehab program. Approximately 27 individuals have completed the class in lead safety.

Linkages to the Preventative Maintenance Standard: The linkages to the PMP occur in at three key points in the rehabilitation process. First, the initial scope of work developed by the city planning department addresses PMP standards. Typically the additions include making horizontal surfaces smooth and cleanable even if the surfaces are not coated with lead-based paint (e.g., worn flooring) and the standard explicitly requires window troughs be covered or windows replaced. Second, a PMP clearance examination must be performed because the PMP requirements are broader than those required by HUD. This PMP clearance also provides a quality control check on the initial clearance. In at least one case, the PMP clearance identified potential lead hazards not documented in the first clearance. Third, the program uses the PMP as an incentive to maintain the unit in good condition. The City will forgive 10% of the CDBG loan each year the property owners complies with the annual PMP onsite monitoring inspection.

Catalyst for Ordinance: This policy change was the direct result of an unsatisfactory lead hazard control project funded with CDBG funds. In 2000, Rocky Mount CDBG funds were used to renovate and conduct lead abatement on a four unit multifamily property. The property passed lead clearance as is required of all abatement projects under North Carolina state lead regulations. After discussions with staff promoting the PMP, the owner expressed interest in enrolling the property in the program. In response the PMP coordinator conducted a PMP clearance examination. The property did not pass clearance because deteriorated paint was located on the porch, exterior trim, and selected interior surfaces and paint chips were present on the soil. (The PMP requires owners to stabilize deteriorated paint unless it is documented to not be lead-based and soil must be free of paint chips, unless the chips are known to not have lead-based paint.) This second clearance one month after the original clearance persuaded the city of Rocky Mount to consider integrating the PMP with the existing rehab program. The new program offered two key advantages to the CDBG program. First, a second clearance test provides a quality control check at no cost to the rehab program. Second, the program obtains free annual monitoring reports that generate information on the physical condition of the unit, paint condition, and dust lead levels.

Outreach Efforts: Limited outreach activities promoting the program have occurred thus far. The program itself creates an opportunity to discuss lead-safety and the PMP during the required lead-safety class. The PMP coordinator has also shared her experience with other PMP coordinators throughout the state. Related outreach efforts include offering the HUD approved lead safe remodeling training and training for homeowners.

Potential Benefits: There are three key aspects of the program’s structure that are likely to increase PMP enrollment.

The program links all CDBG residential projects for units built before 1978 with the PMP and requires PMP enrollment at unit clearance. This automatic linkage of an existing and robust program with the newly created PMP is likely to help break down existing resistance to participate in a new government program.

The program provides a financial incentive for continued participation in the PMP beyond year one, by offering to forgive 10% of the CDBG loan for each year the unit successfully passes the PMP monitoring inspection.

It responds to the conclusions of an earlier review of PMP outreach efforts that recommended future initiatives “partner with organizations offering funds for renovation or lead hazard control” and “leverage interest in HUD’s new lead-based paint requirements for federally assisted housing to generated interest in the PMP program.” (See “Review of Efforts to Promote the North Carolina Lead-Based Paint Preventative Maintenance Program,” prepared by ERT Associates, March 20, 2000.)

Potential Limitations: There are no glaring limitations in the program; however, several issues could impair its effectiveness.

PMP requirements supplementing the HUD lead mandates are not yet institutionalized in the specification writing and bid process. This could result in omissions in PMP-related criteria in job specifications. Early experience with one unit suggests that unless the PMP criteria are integrated into the spec writing process, some items may simply fall through the cracks.

Demand for PMP clearance testing and/or annual PMP monitoring inspections could outstrip the resources of the Edgecombe-Nash PMP coordinator. One possible response could be to revise the inspection schedule after Year 3 to be semi-annual or at longer intervals and adjust the loan forgiveness accordingly. Alternatively, a less intensive inspection schedule could apply to unit built after 1950 which are less likely to have lead-based paint.

The program does not necessarily have leverage to ensure a contractor repairs hazards if a unit fails the PMP clearance but not the HUD-mandated clearance. It is unclear whether the existing contracts will hold back final funds until the unit passes both the HUD and PMP clearance or provide other leverage with the contractors.