Residents of West Calumet Housing Complex in East Chicago, Ind. are currently scrambling to find new homes after Mayor Anthony Copeland ordered the complex to be demolished.
The complex was built just north of a former U.S.S. Lead smelting plant and on top of a smaller former smelter operation. In 2009, the federal government deemed the area a Superfund site. Last month, the residents were told their soil contains 30 times more lead than the level considered safe for children to play in. Many of the children at the Housing Complex, run by East Chicago Housing Authority, now have higher-than-normal levels of lead in their blood.
The E.P.A. has been removing 'hot spots' of the contaminated soil since 2011, but Mayor Copeland believed removing the soil was still aggravating the problem.
The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development has provided the East Chicago Housing Authority with $1.9 million to help residents pay for new rentals in the city or anywhere in the country, starting next month.
But many questions remain, including whether the city, state or federal government will cover residents’ moving expenses and security deposits and whether they will be able to find safe, affordable housing with the amounts they receive. So far, only $100,000 has been allocated, by the state, for moving expenses.