Red-tape nightmare 

Things aren’t looking good — in more ways than one — for thousands of Detroit children with lead poisoning. Since 2000, City Council has allocated $5.5 million in federal money to remove hazards from homes with lead-sick children. To date, zero homes have been improved, and the money sits unspent, according to News Hits’ sources. Some 400 families are vying for that money, plus $3 million more in home-improvement grants. The money just sits there. What’s the problem, you ask? Almost nobody would give News Hits a good answer, and those who could didn’t want their names used. News Hits can only discern the city’s migraine-inspiring web of red tape is to blame, along with a healthy dose of bickering between agencies. The money goes to the city Planning and Development Department, which relies on nonprofits and community groups to gather applications. And while Michigan and Wayne County are fixing lead-filled homes “at a fast clip,” Detroit’s planning and development department “somehow hasn’t been able to field the program,” said Lyke Thompson, a Wayne State professor and co-chair of Detroit Lead Partnership. “It’s a huge problem,” said Thompson, whose studies suggest “some 10,000 kids a year are losing part of their intelligence” due to lead in Detroit. News Hits hears that, to fix the problem, a shakeup in the city’s Planning Department is on the horizon.

Lisa M. Collins is a Metro Times staff writer. E-mail

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