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Attorney General Announces Plan To Reduce Lead Hazards In Downtown Barre

CONTACT: Robert F. McDougall, Assistant Attorney General, (802) 828-5507

June 21, 2010

Vermont Attorney General William H. Sorrell announced today that his office has sent letters to owners of forty-four rental properties in downtown Barre requesting that they demonstrate compliance with the Vermont lead law at the properties. The landlords have been given 90 days to respond to his office.

“Vermont has one of the oldest housing stocks in the nation and Barre, in particular, has some of the oldest in the state,” said Attorney General Sorrell. “Landlords need to take steps to make their properties safe for their tenants. These letters represent a chance for the landlords to work with us toward that goal.”

Approximately 80% of Vermont’s rental housing units were built prior to 1978, when lead based paint was banned. Two out of every three lead poisoned children live in pre-1978 rental housing and children living in Vermont communities with the highest percentage of pre-1950 housing are more than four times as likely to have elevated levels of lead in their blood.

“Anyone paying attention to the news in Barre knows that the condition of its rental housing has been a lightning rod for discussion,” said Attorney General Sorrell. “Our hope is, that with these letters, close to fifty downtown properties will be brought into compliance with the lead law. Peeling and deteriorated paint on the outside of these buildings should be gone and tenants should have well-painted interiors and special inserts for wooden windows.”

The Barre mailings continue the lead poisoning prevention efforts of the Attorney General’s Office state-wide. Since the fall of 2008, the Attorney General’s Office has sent letters to landlords with large number of properties in 11 of Vermont’s 14 counties in addition to a campaign in downtown Winooski earlier this spring. As was the case in Winooski, the mailings to Barre landlords were not based on number of properties owned, rather, the recent mailings focused on specific streets in the downtown area: Maple Avenue and Summer Street. The Attorney General’s Office may do another round of mailings to owners of properties on additional Barre streets in the coming months.

For help, landlords may contact the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board’s (“VHCB”) lead hazard reduction program which provides assistance on a state-wide basis and can be reached by calling 802-828-5064 or online at: www.vhcb.org. VHCB offers free EMP training classes and is planning trainings in the central Vermont area, including one scheduled for June 24th in Montpelier. EMP training classes fill up fast and persons interested in attending, which can include tenants, are encouraged to contact VHCB as soon as possible.

For information concerning Vermont’s lead in housing law, the duties of owners, managers, and sellers of pre-1978 housing, and for copies of court documents from recent enforcement actions involving lead, see the Attorney General’s website at: http://www.atg.state.vt.us and click on “Lead.”

  Website consulting provided by The National Association of Attorneys General.