MDHHS gains approval of federal dollars to remove lead from homes in Benton Harbor; Bottled water distribution continues with announcement of upcoming schedule

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Oct. 26, 2021

CONTACT: Bob Wheaton, 517-241-2112

LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) today received approval to allocate existing federal funds toward removal of lead from Benton Harbor homes.

The U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) approved an MDHHS request through the federal Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which provides health insurance coverage for low-income children.

This action is part of an accelerated, across-the-board effort to reduce the risk of exposure to lead in drinking water while the city replaces all lead service lines.

"Lead abatement in the homes of Benton Harbor residents is an extremely important part of our efforts to protect children from exposure that can result in lifelong health effects," said MDHHS Director Elizabeth Hertel. "These federal dollars allow us to remove lead hazards from homes where children or pregnant women who are enrolled Medicaid or CHIP live or spend time."

Funding comes from the CHIP Health Services Initiative, which already pays for lead removal in Flint, Detroit and other eligible Michigan communities.

Services provided through these MDHHS programs are comprehensive to identify and remediate all lead hazards, including dust, paint, soil and drinking water.

This change is effective immediately. Families living in Benton Harbor can apply for this service by filling out and mailing in an application that is available online. Residents also can call 866-691-5323 to obtain information.  

The ongoing response in Benton Harbor includes the city, Berrien County Health Department, local community organizations, MDHHS and the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy.

As of the end of the day Monday, MDHHS and volunteers had provided 91,713 cases of free bottled water at community distribution sites.

Free bottled water is being provided by the state as residents are being encouraged to use bottled water for cooking, drinking, brushing teeth, rinsing foods and mixing powdered infant formula.

The upcoming schedule for bottled water pickup is:

Wednesday, Oct. 27

  • Southwest Community Action Agency, 331 Miller St., 1-3 p.m.

Thursday, Oct. 28

  • Ebenezer Baptist Church, 214 E. Britain Ave., 10 a.m.-noon.
  • Brotherhood of All Nations, 1286 Monroe St., 4-6 p.m.
  • Southwest Community Action Agency, 331 Miller St., 4.-6 p.m.

Friday, Oct. 29

  • Southwest Community Action Agency, 331 Miller St., 10 a.m.-2 p.m. (Self-service)

Saturday, Oct. 30

  • Boys & Girls Club of Benton Harbor, 600 Nate Wells Sr. Drive, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.,
  • Harbor of Hope Seventh-Day Adventist Church, 739 Pipestone St., 4-6 p.m.

Sunday, Oct. 31

  • Abundant Life Church of God, 693 Columbus Ave., 3-5 p.m.
  • Brotherhood of All Nations, 1286 Monroe St., 4-6 p.m.

Additional dates and locations for bottled water pick up will be added to make sure community needs are met. Information will be posted on Michigan.gov/MiLeadSafe.

MDHHS is engaging in a long-term effort to eliminate lead action level exceedances, educate communities on the effects of lead in drinking water, and remove lead service lines. This collaborative effort includes the City of Benton Harbor, the Berrien County Health Department, local community organizations, MDHHS and the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy.

For questions about lead, MDHHS can be reached at 866-691-5323 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

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