Iowa City Housing Information

Housing & Homeless Needs Assesment:
Lead Based Paint Hazards


I. Development of the 2001-2006 Consolidation Plan (CITY STEPS) II. Housing & Homeless Needs Assesment III. Housing Market Analysis IV. Strategic Plan V. Certifications VI. Appendices
A. General Estimated Housing Needs B. Housing Needs Assesment C. Homeless Needs D. Supportive Housing Needs of Non Homeless Special Needs Populations E. Lead Based Paint Hazards
a. Estimates of Households that Contain Lead-Based Paint Hazards Estimated Housing Units Containing Lead-Based Paint Somewhere in Structure


a. Estimates of Households that Contain Lead-Based Paint Hazards

Due to a national awareness and concern, HUD has placed the lead-based paint issue as a high priority and has provided some funds for abatement. The generally recognized lead-based paint problems have occurred in the larger cities especially in older, poorly maintained neighborhoods. In Iowa City there have been a relatively small number of children under age seven who have tested positively for elevated blood lead levels. The low number of affected children may be the result of code enforcement and the maintenance practices of local landlords. Even though the number of affected children is low, a number of households remain at risk. According to our research for the 1995-2000 CITY STEPS plan, there may be as many as 1,863-2,458 households with children under age seven living in units with lead based paint somewhere within the structure. (NOTE: These statistics are based on national averages and may not be an accurate reflection of Iowa City's housing stock.) The City does address lead-paint hazards through its Housing Rehabilitation Program, where testing and abatement occurs in units with lead-based paint and children under age seven. Additionally, Housing and Inspection Services provides information regarding lead-based paint hazards and abatement to landlords.

The Community Development Division has done limited testing of children and structures through its Housing Rehabilitation Program. Four or five paint tests and three tests on children have been conducted in the last five years. To date all units owned by the Public Housing Authority have been certified as lead free and therefore do not pose a threat to low-income children in Iowa City.

According to the Johnson County Department of Health there have been extremely few cases of lead poisoning in the county. Statistics are not available but because of the low number of cases, they have not been testing children on a widespread basis. The Johnson County Department of Health also feels that the threat of lead poisoning is difficult to ascertain given the lack of quality data. One recent study (1993) tested children at six daycare facilities and found only one child with an elevated blood lead level. Because of the small number of cases, no generalizations can be made as to locations or neighborhoods in Iowa City that might be considered hazardous.

The Longfellow and Miller Orchard Neighborhood Associations jointly applied for funding through the 1998 Program for Improving Neighborhoods (PIN) grant program to test the blood of children between 6 months and 6 years of age for lead blood poisoning. Both neighborhoods have a large percentage of older homes built during the 1920s-1940s.

In January of 1999, 50 children were tested for lead blood poisoning. Only two of the children’s lab results indicated an elevated blood level, but not in excess of a dangerous level. This is far less than the estimated State level of 12 percent. Both children were re-tested three months later and were found to have lead levels at or below acceptable levels. The parents of the children tested seemed to be well educated on the hazards of lead poisoning and may already be taking precautions to avoid exposing their children to lead. The neighborhoods still have funding available for additional tests and will continue to test for the next few months.

Linn County (an urbanized county adjacent to Johnson County containing the City of Cedar Rapids) conducted a study in cooperation with the Iowa Department of Public Health that showed only two to five percent of children in that county had elevated blood lead levels. This figure is significantly lower than the national level, which is estimated at 10 to 15 percent.

Iowa City's situation is unique in that a high number of the City's housing units are occupied by university students who, given their age, are not at risk of lead poisoning. Many of these housing units, generally rentals, are also located in the downtown neighborhoods that are the oldest in the City. These students, traditionally, are lower-income households. Because of this, Iowa City shows a large number of low-income persons living in units with the greatest risk of lead-based paint hazard due to the age of the structure, as evidenced by Map II.2. This fact skews the focus on Lead-Based Paint in Iowa City. The number of children actually affected by lead-based paint in Iowa City are more likely comparable to or smaller than the numbers obtained by the Linn County study.

Table II.8 shows the estimated number of units in Iowa City that may contain lead paint somewhere in the structure. This number was calculated using 1990 Census and HUD data. In addition, the table estimates the number of units occupied by families with children under seven years of age that may be at risk.

Please note that these statistics show only estimates of lead-based paint hazards in Iowa City based upon national statistics and as indicated above, are probably not accurate reflections of Iowa City's housing stock.

Estimated Housing Units Containing
Lead-Based Paint Somewhere in the Structure


Age of

Housing Units


of Units


of Units

with LBP

Estimated Range

of Units

with LBP

Estimated Range

of Units with LBP Hazards to Children

Under Age 7




(+/- 10%)






(+/- 10%)






(+/- 10%)






(+/- 10%)



*HUD Statistics from the CHAS Spring Training Manual, 1993.

Map II.2

click to enlarge (80K)

Map II.3

click to enlarge (80K)

Map II.4

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