Report: N.C. Kids Suffer from Unsafe Homes

Unsafe housing in North Carolina is leaving children with myriad injuries, including broken limbs from falling through rotten floors and asthma from breathing air contaminated by roach and ant droppings, according to a new report.

N.C. Housing Coalition, an advocacy group in Raleigh, found 20 percent of homes in the state are either substandard or unaffordable. The result is an economic toll of about $100 million annually, not including the cost of lost school days, missed work and futures limited by the problems, according to data released by the group Wednesday.

“By and large, everyone pays sooner or later,” said Chris Estes, the coalition’s executive director.

The report also said children are getting lead poisoning from eating old paint crumbling from walls.

Efforts to improve the poor conditions are dependent on available funding, coalition and local government officials said.

In Greensboro, more than 400 housing units have been made safe from lead paint, and dozens more are set for improvements, said Mark Cranford, who handles lead paint issues for the city. But the improvement program is dependent on federal money, and it’s difficult to gauge how many more homes have lead hazards, he said.

“We know we’re just scratching the surface. There’s a lot more out there,” Cranford said.

The coalition is lobbying the General Assembly for more money for a fund that pays for building affordable housing, repairs to dilapidated housing and helps first-time home buyers.

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