A row of triple-decker apartment buildings stand on Blake Street in Lewiston.

Maine is receiving nearly $15 million in federal grants from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to identify and clean up lead in low- to moderate-income housing.

The Maine State Housing Authority was awarded close to $4 million of that funding. The rest will go to three communities: Lewiston, Biddeford and Greater Portland.

Biddeford Mayor Alan Casavant said the city has been inspecting its housing stock for the past few years.

“Out of 690 housing checks, roughly only 35 met the basic standards of life, health and safety. I gotta repeat that. Out of 690, only 35,” he said.

[They wanted a home. Instead, they learned the human cost of living in Maine’s most distressed neighborhood.]

Biddeford will use the grant to specifically address lead hazards in 135 housing units, Casavant said. An additional 130 units will be assessed for lead, mold and other hazards.

Portland councilor Jill Duson said the city’s share covers Cumberland County and will address lead hazards in 100 low- to moderate-income housing units.

“In Cumberland County alone, 29.5 percent of the total occupied housing units are pre-1950, which is considered the highest at risk of containing lead paint,” she said.

The grant was announced at a press conference in Biddeford on Friday by the regional HUD administrator and Sen. Susan Collins, who is chair of the Housing Appropriations Subcommittee.

This article appears through a media partnership with Maine Public.