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$25M low-cost loan will aid Flint pipe removal

The Detroit News

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver announced Sunday a $25 million low-cost loan program to help remove residential lead pipes.

Union Labor Life Insurance Co., a union-owned asset manager, said it would provide the low-cost loans in a joint project by the American Federation of Teachers and Union Labor Life Insurance. The program will help carry out Weaver’s “fast-start” initiative to replace all lead service pipes in Flint homes following the city’s contaminated water crisis.

In a news release Sunday, the loan program was described as a bridge source until funding from the state and federal governments can be secured to upgrade Flint’s water infrastructure.

The loan program “puts into action a commitment made by labor and union pensions at the Clinton Global Initiative to create a national fund to invest in infrastructure in cities across America,” the release said.

“The people of Flint have been waiting for action to remove lead tainted lines,” said Weaver. “On March 4, I was pleased that we pulled and replaced the first lead line. This investment from union pension funds means that we can move forward to remove more lead lines and renew Flint’s infrastructure. I am very grateful to ULLICO and AFT for putting this idea crafted at the Clinton Global Initiative into action in our community.”

On Friday, Weaver launched the fast-track program, a $55 million effort. Lansing Board of Water & Light is helping Flint with technical advice on replacing the city’s 550-mile network of iron pipes containing lead.

The mayor has called on the Legislature to move quickly to approve $25 million for the first phase of the program. Friday, the family home of a pregnant woman who is due this month was targeted for pipe removal and replacement.

"This is a project that will help the entire city," Weaver said Friday. "It will help the whole city — everyone that lives in Flint, and even those who live outside of Flint that got Flint water. All deserve clean, quality water, so that is what we're working on."