Feds: $1.2M needed to move Indiana residents from lead


East Chicago, Ind. — Federal officials say they’re searching for another $1.2 million to help move about 1,000 people from lead-contaminated public housing in northern Indiana.

James Cunningham, a deputy regional administrator for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, told The (Northwest Indiana) Times that the department is working closely with the East Chicago Housing Authority to relocate the residents of the West Calumet Housing Complex, including about 700 children.

HUD already gave $1.9 million to the housing authority to permanently relocate residents. The additional $1.2 million would be used to pay for security deposits, application fees and moving and packing materials, Cunningham said.

On Monday, the Chicago-based Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law filed a housing discrimination complaint, claiming the relocation plan violates civil rights laws and calling the housing authority’s relocation process “chaotic and troubling.”

Cunningham said he doesn’t think any housing authority could handle issuing nearly 350 relocation vouchers in three weeks and do it well.

“This is unprecedented,” he said.

The complex, which is on the former site of a plant that melted lead and copper, was added to a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency list of priority cleanup sites in 2009. East Chicago’s mayor recommended in July that residents move because of high lead and arsenic levels.